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Snowfalls add up to some big numbers

January 11, 2013

Photographers marvel at the fog above Mono Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 8. A weather inversion has trapped dense, cold air low to the ground for much of the past few weeks and the lake helps to generate fog. Mt. Morrison and the rest of the Mammoth area of the Sierra is in the background. Photo/Wendilyn Grasseschi

 

Wednesday’s storm added 7.5 inches of snow to Mammoth Mountain

Slowly but surely, the recent snowstorms are adding inches to an already good winter.

Mammoth Mountain reported 3.5 new inches of snow early this week and 7.5 inches from the Wednesday/Thursday storm, for a total of 11 inches since last Sunday, according to MMSA Ski Patrol data.

Last week, Mammoth Pass stood at 100 percent of normal for this time of year, according to measurements taken by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

This week, as of Jan. 7, it was at 113 percent of normal—and that was before Wednesday’s storm.

Last week, Mammoth Pass was at about 50 percent of normal for April 1, which is the date considered by the state of California to be the end of the snow season. This week it was at 57 percent of normal for April 1.

It’s a good direction to be going in. In previous years, like last year, these percentage gains, which should increase after each storm, have sometimes slipped during big dry spells.

But so far, most of the snowstorms predicted for the Eastern Sierra have either come in as wet as expected, or wetter.

Like Wednesday’s snowfall, which was a bit of a surprise to most forecasters who had predicted a drier storm—except local amateur weather forecaster Howard Sheckter, who hedged his bets.

“So far the forecast models are pretty dry with (this) system,” he said. “However, my experience has shown that storms like these can often times fool forecasters.

“There will also be a period of over-water trajectory creating more of an ‘ocean lake effect.’ So the up shot is—do not be surprised if we get a bit more than forecasted.”

The storms left Mammoth Mountain with a base depth of 101 inches and a total depth of 232 inches of snow as of Thursday morning.

An “average” winter is about 350 inches.

What’s next? According to the National Weather Service and Sheckter, cold temperatures.

“Overall it will get very cold again and the cold will last through the week’s end,” Sheckter wrote on his website. “However, it does not look as cold as it did for this upcoming weekend as it did four days ago.”

Beginning Thursday, “the main impact for the remainder of the week will be cold temperatures across both valley and mountain locations as the cold air mass settles across the region,” according to the NWS.

“Highs will struggle to reach the freezing mark across Western Nevada with widespread teens and 20s in the Sierra. Single digit and below zero overnight lows will also be seen across many Sierra valleys.”

Locally, the coldest night is predicted to be Monday, at minus one degree.

A few snow showers may break through as well, the NWS said, but none are expected to pack a big punch.

In the long run, Sheckter and the NWS are predicting a big warm-up next week, with temperatures hitting the low 50s in Mammoth by Wednesday.

Beyond that? A possible big system change could allow rain to come to Southern California later in the month, Sheckter said, and possibly, with that change, a return to a wetter pattern for the Sierra.

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