Monday Jan 23 2012
Weekend storms bring much needed rain, snow
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
The storm door opened just long enough to give the foothills a good soaking and blanket the Sierra with a fluffy layer of snow. But now it’s closing again — at least for a while. Sensors at Auburn Municipal Airport recorded 1.61 inches of rain from mid-day Sunday to mid-day Monday and 4.92 inches for the past five days. Some areas nearby received as much as 3½ inches of rain during the Sunday-to-Monday period, according to Steve Goldstein, forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Sacramento. “Briefly there was three-quarters to an inch an hour of rainfall,” he said. “We issued a small stream and urban flood advisory (until 11 a.m. Monday). That band moved into the foothills along Highway 20 and Highway 49.” The weekend double-whammy — with the first system moving through Friday into Saturday — produced some wind gusts as high as 45 to 50 mph, but left the Auburn area relatively unscathed. “We had some localized flooding …gravel in the road and plugged-up ditches,” said Kevin Taber, Placer County road superintendent. … “A lot of the aggressive tree trimming we’ve been doing in the Newcastle-Penryn area, we’re reaping those benefits now and not seeing the typical big trees and limbs coming down in roadways. We’ve had that program going for a few years and it is actually really paying off.” It was a similar situation in the city limits of Auburn, Public Works Director Bernie Schroeder said. “We didn’t have any particularly challenging flooding problems, just localized areas,” she said. “We’ve been very diligent in keeping drains clean. That’s a full-time thing this time of year. We didn’t have any trees go down, which was good. Sometimes the wind can make that happen.” Areas that typically see high water along Auburn Ravine were impacted and there was a little bit of flooding near Brook Road. “The Downtown drainage area usually has a lot of water because it culminates there and it’s an older system,” she said. Travel-wise, there were not a lot of accidents and no big traffic jams locally, according to Dave Martinez, spokesman at the California Highway Patrol’s Newcastle office. “We didn’t have anything major around Auburn,” Martinez said. Nevertheless, his advice for driving in the rain is to slow down. “When rain first hits, the roadways are going to be slippery,” he said. “(Drivers) need to allow extra time to get to their destinations and avoid any distractions in their car. … A lot of people will still think it is OK to drive the speed limit when it is pouring down rain, but it is not safe.” As the last of the snow and rain moved east Monday, a dry pattern began setting up again. “It looks like the storm track deflected back to the north,” Goldstein said. “We probably won’t have any precipitation for the next seven to 10 days. We’re in a moderate La Nina, but some of the things missing that we had last year are persistent low pressure north and east of Hawaii and a real good split in the jet stream, which brought us a stormy season.” The outlook for Auburn for the next week is partly to mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s. However, the Sacramento Valley will be stuck in low clouds and fog, he said. Reach Gloria Young at firstname.lastname@example.org. ------------ Sierra resorts celebrate arrival of snow In the Sierra, resorts were celebrating Monday. “So far at Squaw, we’ve received 5 feet of snow in 72 hours at the upper mountain,” spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said. “At Alpine Meadows, we’ve received 6 feet at the summit in the past 72 hours.” That translates to 650 acres open at Squaw and another 900 at Alpine. “To put that in perspective, each resort had 100 acres open prior to Friday,” she said. As snow continued to fall Monday afternoon, Richmond said the resorts are doing everything possible to open increasing amounts of terrain. “It doesn’t put us completely back on track, but puts us on our way,” she said. The situation is so different from a year ago. “It’s interesting, as both seasons are considered La Nina winters as dominant weather patterns,” Richmond said. “What it means for the Sierra is these feast or famine conditions. Even though we broke all our records last year, we essentially didn’t receive any snow in January. It’s hard to have such a dry start. But we knew that when it was going to come, it would come down hard and that is exactly what is happening now.” At Sugar Bowl, it was looking “pretty awesome,” spokeswoman Jennie Bartlett said. “We got close to 48 inches from the weekend so far,” she said. “We’ve got 47 trails out of 95 open.” Prior to the storms, Sugar Bowl had 17 trails open.