Parts of California get a White Christmas after snowfall
Published 11:26 pm Saturday, December 25, 2021
By Stefanie Dazio
LOS ANGELES — Parts of California are getting a White Christmas after all, with snowfall pounding mountains across the state.
Other areas of California, however, saw a wet and rainy Christmas as storms continue to drench the state, causing flash flooding and evacuations in some areas over the holiday period.
A 70-mile stretch of interstate over the top of the Sierra Nevada was closed Saturday when a storm that dropped nearly 2 feet of snow on some ski resorts around Lake Tahoe overnight got a second wind.
Interstate 80 connecting Reno, Nevada, to Sacramento, California, over the Sierra was closed in both directions due to poor visibility from the Nevada-California state line to Colfax, California.
“The worst part of the storm is here so expect long delays,” the California Highway Patrol in Truckee tweeted Saturday afternoon.
Friday night into Saturday, 20 inches of snow fell at Homewood on Tahoe’s west shore. About a foot was reported at Northstar near Truckee, California and 10 inches at the Mount Rose ski resort on the southwest edge of Reno.
At Donner Pass in the Sierra, which is along the closed interstate, officials with the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory wondered on Twitter if the recent snowfall could break the snowiest December record of 179 inches set in 1970.
There’s been at least 119 inches recorded so far this month , according to The Mercury News, with more expected over the next 72 hours.
The snowpack in the Sierra was at dangerously low levels after recent weeks of dry weather but the state Department of Water Resources reported on Christmas Eve that the snowpack was between 114% and 137% of normal across the range with more snow expected.
In the San Bernardino National Forest, crews are working on a $4.2 million emergency project to repair a section of State Route 18 that washed down a hillside late Thursday after heavy rain, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
The roadway is a major route to Big Bear Lake and the closure near Panorama Point could be “several days if not weeks,” the newspaper reported.
The Los Angeles area is likely to see rain and mountain snow for the next week, according to the National Weather Service, with temperatures significantly below normal through the middle of the week.
The San Diego region should see scattered showers, with heavy snow in the San Bernardino and Riverside County mountains, with precipitation possibly going into Thursday.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area is predicted to have rain showers through Monday before cold and drier conditions arrive through the middle of next week, the weather service said.
The storms across the West, which could drop rain and snow over much of the region into next week and plunge the Pacific Northwest into a lengthy cold snap, follow a now-departed atmospheric river that delivered copious amounts of precipitation earlier this week.
The National Weather Service says the Seattle-Tacoma area is likely to see up to 3 inches of snow over the weekend. By early next week, the Seattle area will dip as low as 18 degrees, the lowest in several years. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will drop to -5 degrees by Wednesday and Portland will drop to the low 20s and high teens.
Rain and snow records broke in Nevada and state officials in Oregon declared an emergency ahead of the freezing temperatures, snow and ice.
Recent forecasts show at least an inch of snow is likely to fall Sunday in the Seattle and Portland regions, which don’t typically see snow.
But forecasters and state officials say the main concern is cold temperatures in the region, with daytime highs next week struggling to reach above freezing, that are likely to impact people experiencing homelessness and those without adequate access to heating.
In Arizona, a winter weather advisory remained in effect Saturday through the weekend in the upper elevations of the mountains north of the Grand Canyon near the Colorado line. But the wet weather that dumped record-breaking rain on Phoenix and Flagstaff on Friday was moving out of the area.
The 1.67 inches of rain that fell at the airport in Flagstaff on Friday shattered the old record of 0.87 inches set in 2019. The inch that was recorded in Phoenix Friday broke the old record of 0.93 of an inch in 1944.
It also was the wettest day for the city since Feb. 22, 2020, when just over an inch fell.