Expect seriously chilly Christmas temperatures

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Sierra travelers will be getting a pre-Christmas respite from heavy snow today as the vestiges of one front exits and another hovers off the coast. Jim Mathews, a weather forecaster with the National Weather Service Sacramento office, said Monday that there will be some lingering snowfall in the higher elevations today. “There’s a slight chance of rain and snow but nothing too significant,” Mathews said. Meanwhile, far out in the Pacific, Mathews said a developing system will be tracking into Southern California Wednesday and Wednesday night, bringing rain and wind. Northern California, including the Auburn-area foothills, should be on the edge of that system but it’s still unknown how much precipitation will fall in the region from the storm, he said. Forecast totals are for up to two-tenths of an inch in the valley and several inches of snow in the Sierra. A colder system originating in Alaska is expected to reach Auburn on Christmas Day, dropping daytime temperatures to the high 30s and low 40s. Christmas night, the thermometer will plummet to a low of 28 degrees. “Travelers in the mountains are still advised to expect winter driving but we’re not expecting any tropical systems,” Mathews said. In the Sierra, the break in heavy snowfall is improving driving conditions to and from ski slopes. Auburn’s Michael Babich was one of the ski enthusiasts making their way to resorts like Boreal on Monday. Chains were required at higher elevations but Babich said he found the going fairly smooth along Interstate 80, with some stretches of road covered in snow but traffic not heavy. “Going up this morning was great because you know Saturday and Sunday had to be a zoo,” Babich said. Once drivers arrived at resorts, they found plenty of fresh, new snow. The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association reported more than seven feet of snow had fallen in the last week – including more than a foot overnight Sunday. “Making fresh tracks was the mantra this morning,” said Andy Chapman, the association’s tourism director. “Almost every car headed through our towns and resorts was loaded with skis and boards and snow enthusiasts eager to take advantage of the great situation.” Now open are Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain Resort, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA, Sugar Bowl, Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area, Tahoe Donner Cross Country, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Tahoe Donner Downhill, Donner Ski Ranch, Royal Gorge Cross Country, Granlibakken Resort, Diamond Peak and Soda Springs. Spooner Lake Cross Country anticipates opening by today. Ski Homewood opens Wednesday. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at