Wednesday Nov 18 2009
Strong weekend storm expected
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
Snow could drop to 3,000-ft. levels Friday
A strong storm moving through Friday into Saturday could drop more than a foot of snow at the highest elevations of the Sierra. Snow levels will start at about 5,000 to 6,000 feet Friday morning, dropping to around 3,000 feet by Friday night, according to the National Weather Service. “We’re looking at the potential of 6 to 12 inches from the 4,000 to 7,000 foot levels,” forecaster Karl Swanberg said Wednesday. The cold front will also bring wind gusts of up to 65 mph at the summit. “There could be blowing snow and limited visibility,” Swanberg said. This will be a colder system than the one that passed through in early October. And although it will be a snow producer, moisture levels for the foothills and Sacramento Valley will be mild to moderate. The valley could see about a quarter-inch of rain, with Auburn getting as much as a half-inch to an inch, Swanberg said. Temperatures in Auburn will rise into the 50s during the day, dropping to the 30s and 40s at night, he said. A second, much weaker system Saturday will bring a little more rain and wind to the area and snow to the mountains. But by Sunday, a drying trend will clear skies through mid-week, Swanberg said. The snow will be a timely boon to Sierra resorts getting ready to open for the Thanksgiving holiday. According to their Web sites, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley will open their winter season Saturday. Sugar Bowl’s opening day is Nov. 25. Boreal Mountain Resort, already open, expanded to two lifts, two trails and two terrain park lines on Nov. 14, according to a press release. Travelers on Interstate 80 Friday should be prepared for chain controls and even road closures at higher elevations, depending on the severity of the storm. “If there is too much snow going up I-80, a lot of times we’ll shut down the freeway or limit traffic at the Applegate exit,” said David Martinez, California Highway Patrol public information officer. “At that point, we’ll make sure they have chains or are carrying chains.” The CHP will be working closely with Caltrans to monitor the situation. “If road conditions really (deteriorate), we wouldn’t allow big rigs to go any farther (than the Applegate exit),” Martinez said. He advised caution on the roadways. “The public should allow for more time to get to where they’re going over the summit because of traffic conditions,” he said. “Sometimes you think it will be clear, but roads could be closed at a moment’s notice.” The CHP will have plenty of manpower on the highways. “We have a lot of coverage on all shifts,” Martinez said. “If inclement weather is here, we’ll be prepared for it.” Gloria Young can be reached at email@example.com.