The Union Democrat

Forecast calls for snow in Sonora by Sunday


Two days before Christmas Day, the National Weather Service was forecastin­g five consecutiv­e days of high weather impacts for holiday travelers throughout Central and Northern California.

The current round of storms that started out warm late Tuesday and early Wednesday is expected to grow much colder early Saturday to Tuesday, with snow possible in Sonora, Jamestown, and Columbia by Saturday, and a winter storm warning in effect for much of the Mother Lode foothills through Tuesday morning.

From late Tuesday to 4 p.m. Thursday, storms had brought 1.8 inches of rain to Angels Camp; 4.5 inches near Calaveras Big Trees; .78 of one inch at New Melones; 1.6 inches near Columbia; 1.9 inches northeast of Sonora; 2.21 inches at Pinecrest; 1.7 inches east of Pine Mountain Lake; and 1.35 inches south of Buck Meadows, according to National Weather Service data.

As of Thursday morning, the Stanislaus and Tuolumne river watersheds and the rest of the Central Sierra region had received 14.2 inches of precipitat­ion since the current water year began Oct. 1. That total was 135% of average for the date Dec. 23.

Sonora and other foothill towns can expect more rainfall Christmas Day, followed by a colder blast of winter from 4 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Tuesday. Overnight lows in Sonora are expected to plunge below freezing Saturday through Wednesday.

“It’s starting off a bit warmer but it’s going to bring colder air from the Gulf of Alaska with lower snow levels, eventually to 1,000 to 2,500 by Sunday morning,” Katrina Hand, a National Weather Service meteorolog­ist in Sacramento, said Thursday afternoon in a phone interview. “Snow levels will come lower Friday through Sunday and into early next week.”

Winds gusting to the north up to 20 miles per hour are predicted for Sonora from Friday night to Saturday night. In addition, Sonora could get 5 inches to 7.5 inches more rainfall by Wednesday, and more than 8 feet of addi

tional snow will be possible at Ebbetts Pass and 6 to 8 more feet at Sonora Pass, according to forecasts.

Dodge Ridge Ski Area near Pinecrest opened for the season last Thursday and staff there said this Thursday morning more than 6 feet of new snow had fallen in the past week.

Storms in the past week put a dent in drought conditions in the Central Sierra. While the foothills of Calaveras and Tuolumne counties remained in the most dire drought category, exceptiona­l, the entire state remained in moderate drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor scientists.

Sonora Pass on Highway 108, Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4, Monitor Pass on Highway 89, and Tioga Pass on Highway 120 were closed for winter last week due to previous storms.

Contact Guy Mccarthy at gmccarthy@ uniondemoc­ or (209) 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @ Guymccarth­y.

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