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More rain, another storm on track for Auburn

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn has received than an inch-and-a-half of rain since Sunday and there’s plenty more to come. Expect some moderate downpours today and possible showers Thursday. Then a significant system moves through Friday, according to the National Weather Service bureau in Sacramento. “By Friday afternoon there will be pretty hard rain,” meteorologist Chris Hintz said Tuesday. That will be accompanied by southerly winds in the 10 to 20 mph range, with gusts into the low 30s, he said. The system so far has been tapping into subtropical air. “That’s why snow levels are up and the temperatures are fairly mild,” he said. But that will change later in the week, with snow levels dropping from 7,000 feet to 3,000-to-4,000 feet by Thursday and even lower, to 2,500, feet by the weekend. “(Friday’s storm) will probably bring several feet of new snow to higher elevations,” Hintz said. The Auburn area will likely get another two inches or more of rain through Friday, he said. All that precipitation is further boosting an already impressive Sierra snowpack. Boreal Mountain Resort has 40 percent more than this time last year, spokesman Jon Slaughter said Tuesday. “So far, we’ve had over 50 inches (of snow) in the month of March,” he said. On Tuesday, instead of the rain that had been forecast, it turned out to be more snow. And all that extra snow has translated into good business for the resort. “When the weather has been clear, we’ve been having great crowds,” Slaughter said. It also could mean skiing and snowboarding even later into spring this year. Boreal’s closing date, set for April 10, is being evaluated to see if it makes sense to extend the season. “We’d like to know as soon as possible, but we’re just crunching the numbers to see if it all works out,” Slaughter said. In the meantime, the resort is planning another 15-for-all on Friday, with lift tickets at $15 for the day. The spate of rainy weather is having an impact at local restaurants. “It is hurting a little bit, especially the senior people,” said Al Haddad at Sierra Grill in the Bowman area. “They can’t drive at times like this.” But the call of coffee hasn’t waned at the nearby Starbucks, shift supervisor Caleb Avila said. “It seems like more people come and sit,” he said. “They just want to sit and read to stay dry.“ At Folsom Dam, four gates were releasing water Tuesday. As of midday, the Bureau of Reclamation was releasing 15,000 cubic feet per second, with 5,000 cfs going to the power plant and 10,000 over the spillways, public affairs spokesman Pete Lucero said. Even with that, “the gates aren’t open full bore,” he said. Later Tuesday afternoon, the release was upped to 20,000 cfs, with 15,000 going through the spillways “until we have flood reservation capacity to capture inflows from the coming storms,” he explained. In normal rain years, that level of water release is not unusual. “The flows are kind of out of the ordinary for the last three or four years because we’ve had very dry winters,” Lucero said. Behind the dam, Folsom Lake’s volume is still plenty below capacity, at 673,000 acre feet of water “The capacity is 977,000 acre feet,” Lucero said. “The 15-year average on this date for the last 15 years is 583,000 acre feet. Last year at this time, it was 492,000 acre feet. Right now, we’re 15 percent above the 15-year average as far as storage within the reservoir.” The bureau is managing the reservoir storage to “pretty much mirror the inflows so we have enough storage to assure we have flood protection necessary for downstream areas below Folsom,” he said. The longer-term forecast is calling for an unsettled weather pattern at least through the middle of next week, with periods of rain and possible thunderstorms over the weekend, Hintz said. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. ------------ Statistics for Auburn according to Accuweather.com Rain total from 5 p.m. Sunday to 5 p.m. Monday — 1.11 inches Season to date (from July 1) — 35.28 inches Last season to date — 23.20 inches Normal season to date — 29.28 inches