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Storm’s a-brewin’

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Correspondent
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This weekend’s storm is forecast to drench the foothills, while more snowfall in the Sierra will add to a record-breaking season. The winter storm watch put in effect by the National Weather Service is likely to be upgraded to a winter storm warning as rain, snow and high winds surge the region from late Friday through Sunday, according to George Cline, forecaster for the National Weather Service. The series of storms coming in from Alaska could cause localized flooding and storm drains to be clogged. As residents brace for potential damage to their homes, ski resorts welcome the fresh accumulation of powder and influx of snow-sport enthusiasts. November was the fifth snowiest season on record for the Sierra according to statistics gathered by the Western Regional Climate Center. This provided ideal conditions for those venturing to hit the slopes at Thanksgiving, and the resorts are prepared for a more significant turnout this holiday season. “Storms are par for the course and we’ll be at the ready, hoping for snow levels to cooperate,” said John Monson, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort spokesman. The near-97 inches of snowfall in the Tahoe basin is over double the 41-inch average for November and made for an early ski season. Ed Gates, owner of Snow Mountain Ski Shop in Auburn, has seen a much higher demand for services than in recent years as some of the larger shops have more customers than they can keep pace with. “I have probably had more board tune-ups and waxes in the past six weeks than I did all of last winter,” Gates said Thursday. “Conditions have been really good up there.” With the record snowfall, Gates also encourages people to go beyond their comfort zone of skiing and snowboarding to try other winter sports. Snow-shoes and rocker skis, which give you the turning radius of a short ski with the speed and stability of a longer ski, are two options for daring individuals looking to capitalize on the stellar conditions. As more people make the trip to the mountains Caltrans also stands prepared for this weekend’s storm. They have added 22 overhead changeable electronic message signs to keep drivers informed and 130 chain installer subcontractors will be on hand to install and remove chains. They charge $30 to put chains on and $15 to take them off at chain control areas. “Our No. 1 priority is to keep traffic moving on 80 at a safe pace,” said Deanna Shoopman, Caltrans Tahoe Basin outreach coordinator. Caltrans advises that motorists heading to higher elevations be prepared by carrying chains, a snow shovel, kitty litter for traction, blankets and water in case of traffic delays. The California Transportation Information System also offers an automated telephone system that drivers can call for up to date traffic and road conditions. ---------------------- Traffic, road conditions For latest reports, call Caltrans at 1-800-427-7623 or visit www.dot.ca.gov