Stormy week to bring low snow levels

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Winter’s back. By Thursday, snow levels will drop to 1,500 to 2,000 feet, according to Angus Barkhuff, forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Sacramento. A strong high pressure off the West Coast that deflected storms to the north for the past couple of weeks is gone. “Now that it has moved out of the way, a strong low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska (is impacting the region),” he said. “The first wave came through (Monday) and we’ll have a series of storms through the week.” The waves will strengthen Tuesday through Wednesday, and temperatures will dip as well. For the foothills and valley, the forecast is calling for winds gusting from 20 to 30 mph. Temperature-wise, the Auburn-area’s high will only be in the low to mid-40s Wednesday. Rainfall for Monday to Friday will be moderate, ranging from 1 to 3 inches in the foothills. The Sacramento area is running about 88 percent of normal, Barkhuff said. For the Sierra, which saw flurries Monday, snowfall will arrive in earnest Tuesday and will be heaviest Wednesday. “There will be good accumulation Wednesday into Wednesday night and into Thursday morning,” Barkhuff said. “Through Wednesday, we’re looking at 8 to 16 inches at the 4,000-foot level.” The National Weather Service’s winter storm watch, issued for Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, gives possible snow accumulations of 1 to 2 feet in the Lake Tahoe area, 2 to 3 feet above 7,000 feet and up to 4 feet at the crest of the Sierra. The storms will add to an already healthy snowpack, despite the recent dry spell The snowpack survey conducted Jan. 28 showed water content at 78 percent of the April 1 seasonal average. That compares to the average reading of 55 percent for that date, according to a Department of Water Resources press release. January totals were only about 13 percent of average for the month, but October, November and December recorded above-average precipitation. Most of the state’s major reservoirs are above normal storage levels for the date, the press release said. With possible blizzard conditions looming in the next couple of days, Caltrans is keeping a close eye on the weather. “We’ve got all of our usual snow call-ups in place,” spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins said Monday. “We have our seasonal workers and we take some crews from the valley as necessary. We have all our equipment up and running so we’re ready to go. There are no chain controls now. It’s always Mother Nature-dependent, but we try to stay on top of it as much as possible.” Jenkins categorized the forecast as an average winter storm. “We’ve had worse, we’ve had less,” she said. At Boreal Mountain Resort, the snow is still plenty high, but more is always welcome. “Business levels are not powder-day levels, but it hasn’t been bad with the terrain parks,” marketing director Jon Slaughter said. “They were built for people to ride when there’s not powdery conditions. Last week was the USSA Revolution Tour. We had 200 kids competing all week in skiing and snowboarding, so that kept us pretty busy. “ Boreal is bracing for the brunt of the stormy weather Tuesday into Wednesday with as much as 3 to 4 feet of accumulation by the end of the week, and then clearing for the weekend, Slaughter said. “It looks like it will set us up perfectly for a great Presidents Day weekend holiday,” he said. “We have an 84 to 116 inch base — that’s a great year to end on with plenty more snow on the way.” Reach Gloria Young at