Potentially Dangerous Storm Saturday Night Into Monday

By Wendilyn Grasseschi
Mammoth Times Reporter

Jan. 19, 9 p.m.

Here we go again.
The first in a series of three storms hit Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra Jan. 18-Jan. 19 and left Mammoth under another foot of snow, with one to two feet of snow in Crowley Lake due to a cold inversion during the storm.
Mammoth Mountain took on another two to three feet of snow, bringing the total snow depth at the top of the Mountain to about 22 feet.
The storm was just the beginning.
In the next four days, five to seven feet of snow is in the forecast for Mammoth Mountain, with about half that in the Town of Mammoth, according to forecasters.
The Wednesday-Thursday storm was just the beginning of another wave of intense, wet storms, or “mini atmospheric rivers,” as the National Weather Service is calling the storms.
While not as epic as the storms that battered the Sierra the first and second week of January, the storms are still going to be a force to be reckoned with.
The timing of the storms will break down something like this, according to National Weather Service forecaster Chris Smallcomb.
“The next storm in this series comes in tomorrow morning, Jan. 20, with the heaviest snow between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.,” he said. “It will continue to storm throughout the day, with the snow coming in waves.”
The Friday storm is forecast to add another foot or more to Mammoth and one to two feet on Mammoth Mountain.
The snow will be the kind skier and snowboarders dream of, according to Mammoth's forecaster, Howard Sheckter.
"The next in the series is not as impressive as there is not atmospheric river," said Howard Sheckter. "However it is a colder storm with cold powdery snow. The most intensive period is between Friday a.m. and Saturday mid-morning, with six to 12 inches in town possible and one to two feet over the upper elevations are estimated."
Eventually, the snow will back off for a short time, making the day of Saturday, Jan. 21 the least snowy day in the forecast, he said.
“The best day to travel, if you must travel, is Saturday during the day,” he said.
The quiet period ends with a vengeance late Saturday night, when the third storm in the series arrives between 10 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday, he said.
Storm number three is going to a doozy.
“Sunday is going to be a train wreck,” he said. “Don’t travel if you do not have to.
"Saturday night is when the fun starts, with feet of snow in Mammoth and winds on the crest up to 140 mph, continuing well into Sunday. The reason I mention this is the drive home on Sunday, if it will even be possible. At best it will be quite dangerous if all this comes together, and it is looking like it will. Worse case is U.S. Highway 395 could be shut down for a while.
"So if you want to be snowed in, this weekend will probably be the weekend for that. It's not so bad if you expect it. It is terrible if you are not prepared."
In other words, the storm will come in with heavy rain in the lower elevations of the Eastern Sierra and heavy snow at the higher elevations. The storm is forecast to bring another four to six feet to Mammoth Mountain and again, about half that in Mammoth.
All elevations of the Eastern Sierra will be affected by this last storm; either as rain or snow or a mix of both.
Driving north toward Reno or over the Sierra via Donner Pass, drivers will face very dangerous conditions, including blizzards and heavy snow.
Driving south toward Los Angeles, drivers will face snow to Bishop and heavy rain all the way from Bishop to San Diego.
The bottom line is, it's best not to travel Sunday and even into Monday morning, if at all possible.
Finally, on Monday afternoon, the systems begins to exit the region, with a much drier pattern in the forecast for the third and the last week of the month.