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More snow to come, but forecast models can’t seem to agree on how much
The Mammoth area might receive another foot or more of snow over the highest elevations by Monday, according to weather forecasters.
Then again, it might not.
Weather forecasters for both the National Weather Service and Mammoth’s own amateur forecaster, Howard Sheckter, say this week’s storms have been hard to pin down. That is due to an unusually large disagreement between several weather forecast models, which earlier this week simultaneously predicted five inches of snow—and five feet of snow—from this week’s storms.
What the region received from the first storm of the week—as of Thursday afternoon—was about six inches of snow in the town of Mammoth and about eight inches on Mammoth Mountain. The snow was wet and heavy because the storm tapped into a band of subtropical moisture, Sheckter said.
The next storm, predicted for Friday, is not expected to bring much more snow than that, although in keeping with the pattern of uncertainty, that could change.
“This storm could split around us and we could see anything, or almost nothing depending on how it splits,” Sheckter said. Another system between Saturday and Monday “might give us a few inches, but not too much,” he added.
The NWS forecast is similarly vague.
“An unsettled pattern continues through early next week as a series of storm systems move into the Western United States,” the regional forecast for Thursday read. “For Friday and Saturday, forecast confidence continues to be lower as short-to-mid-range models struggle with placement and timing of individual features.”
One thing that does seem to be certain is that cold temperatures will return to the area Sunday. “Colder air Sunday will drop snow levels to valley floors,” the forecast reads.
Sheckter added that valley communities such as Crowley Lake and Bridgeport can expect temperatures to drop into the single digits with highs in the teens, a return to a pattern of inversions which trap cold, heavy air in the region’s many valleys. Adding a source of moisture, like Crowley Lake, Mono Lake and the Bridgeport Reservoir, to a pattern of inversions often also brings fog to these areas.
The region will slowly dry up and even more slowly warm up again next week Although some of the inversion patterns will persist, the fog and smoky skies common to such inversions will be less pronounced, the NWS stated.