Fall weather is factoring into the Rim Fire fight, aiding while also impeding firefighting and recovery efforts.
About 0.6 inch of rain Saturday led to “far fewer hot spots” and very little heat seen during infrared flyovers of the fire area, said Gary Wuchner, lead spokesman for the incident management team.
The fire grew to 257,126 acres over the weekend. It had remained at 256,895 acres from Wednesday morning to Saturday morning. Containment remained at 84 percent today.
The National Weather Service had issued a Red Flag Warning for the weekend’s high winds.
A “Hazardous Weather Outlook” has been issued for rain, high winds and even snow this week for much of the southern Sierra Nevada, beginning in Yosemite National Park, from a low pressure system coming in from the Gulf of Alaska.
Tuesday night and Wednesday could bring less than an inch of snow accumulation above 6,500 feet, said Jim Mathews, Weather Service meteorologist. The northeastern uncontained perimeter of the Rim Fire is at about 8,000 feet in elevation.
Wind gusts could reach 45 mph over mountain peaks, and 30 to 35 mph at lower elevations.
Saturday evening, Highway 120 was closed from Crane Flat in Yosemite National Park to 12 miles west of the junction with Highway 395 due to snow, according to the Rim Fire Incident Management Team.
Many resources were called off Saturday to avoid injuries, equipment damage and road loss.
Remaining fire crews and crews returning Sunday had to battle mud and rock debris but it “wasn’t as much as we thought and not in and around roads,” for the most part, Wuchner said.
The Burned Area Emergency Response team, scientists in charge of post-fire watershed management, warned people of flood and mudflow hazards from the seasonal weather, saying that “all canyons within the Rim Fire area can produce flash flooding.”
“At first sign of a storm, even if it’s not right over you, the storm may be upstream from your location,” the team said, advising people to carefully monitor weather conditions around them and be prepared to evacuate and seek higher ground if necessary.
The chance of rain in lower elevations like Sonora was less than 20 percent, Mathews said.
Aspen Valley and Tamarack Flat areas opened over the weekend.