C-c-c-cold snap arrives

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

A wintry storm expected Friday and Saturday could bring snow to elevations as low as Chinese Camp and Copperopolis.

The storm would bring a smattering of snow to those lower elevations, but could dump more than 5 inches over Sonora and Angels Camp.

Bear Valley and Dodge Ridge ski areas could get between 1 and 2 feet.

The National Weather Service issued a "Winter Storm Watch" - urging drivers to carry chains and drive safely - for the west slope of the northern Sierra Nevada today through Saturday.

Record and near-record low overnight temperatures are expected. A freeze warning is in effect for pipes, plants and livestock.

Overnight lows tonight and Thursday are expected to be 23 and 24 degrees in Sonora, the Weather Service said.

Last night's low was 22 in Sonora - beating a record set in 1983 of 27 degrees.

The chance of snow on Friday is 80 percent in Sonora with 3 to 7 inches snowfall possible, but mainly expected after 5 p.m.

Sonora is at about 1,800 feet elevation.

Saturday is forecast as a 30 percent chance of snow in Sonora with 1 to 3 inches snowfall possible.

Angels Camp may see rain and snow on Friday, but 3 to 5 inches of snow are possible overnight. Saturday is also forecast at a 30 percent chance of snow, with less than an inch of snowfall predicted.

Snow may fall a little earlier in higher elevations on Friday, with around an inch of accumulation possible in Twain Harte during the day, mostly after 4 p.m.

Overnight on Friday in Twain Harte - at about 3,600 feet - 5 to 9 inches ofsnow may accumulate.

Saturday at that elevation is also a 30 percent chance of snow, with 2 to 4 inches of snowfall possible.

Snow levels could reach as low as 1,000 feet during this storm.

The "Winter Storm Watch" warning said "driving conditions normally seen only near pass levels will occur at much lower elevations."

Officer Nick Norton of the California Highway Patrol said if these forecasts prove true, chain controls would certainly be at Soulsbyville and above, very likely in Sonora and maybe even down to Jamestown.

Weather is expected to clear Saturday night and Sunday.

The Union Democrat
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