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Another storm system is forecast to bring rain, wind and high-elevation snow to the Mother Lode later this week, but whether predictions for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties are accurate remains to be seen.
A weekend storm that was billed as significant — prompting closures of Ebbetts, Sonora and Tioga passes on highways 4, 108 and 120 before it arrived — tracked further north than expected, bringing less precipitation than forecast to the Central Sierra.
“We didn’t get a whole lot of rain and snow in Tuolumne County,” said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “The heaviest was generally north of Highway 50. The system lost a lot of its moisture as it dropped south.”
Highway 50 is north of Calaveras and Amador counties in El Dorado County.
Snow was evident at some higher elevation locations. Caltrans District 10 staff posted photos to social media Monday showing snow on Highway 4 at the Lake Alpine gate and deeper snow beyond at Cape Horn and Mosquito Lake.
Dodge Ridge staff said they got 4 inches of snow in the 48 hours preceding Sunday morning.
Shoemaker said the weekend storm brought rain totals of about a half inch to mountain locations including Arnold, Calaveras Big Trees, Twain Harte and Pinecrest.
Sonora received 0.16 inch of rain Friday and Saturday and none on Sunday.
“It got lesser as you went farther south,” Shoemaker said. “Groveland area was maybe a quarter inch to a half inch in some locations.”
It drizzled off and on for a bit in Yosemite Valley on Saturday afternoon. Sunday at Pinecrest there were clouds and dustings of snow visible on the highest peaks and ridges nearby. It was sunny and cool as trailing edges of the weather system moved over to the Eastside Sierra.
“It wasn’t a whole lot of snow,” Shoemaker said. “The snow levels were very high, above 6,500 feet generally, maybe an inch or two above 7,000 feet.”
As of Monday afternoon, Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 and Sonora Pass on Highway 108 remained closed, according to Caltrans District 10 staff.
Tioga Pass on Highway 120 in Yosemite National Park was reopened with no chain restrictions.
Another storm system
The approaching storm system is billed by forecasters as rain, wind and high elevation-snow for Wednesday through Friday. How much of that comes to the Mother Lode will again depend on how far south the system tracks as it moves east over the Central Sierra.
Shoemaker said this next system is trending drier and warmer. Calaveras County could get a half-inch to one inch of rain, and Tuolumne County could get a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch.
“Snow levels will be pretty high with this one, also,” Shoemaker said Monday. “They should start above pass level and fall down to 7,000 feet, maybe 6,000 feet by early Friday.”
Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 and Sonora Pass on Highway 108 could get 3 to 6 inches of snow, and Tioga Pass could get 3 to 4 inches, most likely from late Thursday to early Friday, Shoemaker said.
In San Andreas, Sonora and other foothill towns along Highway 49, it’s supposed to be sunny today with highs in the 60s and overnight lows in the low 40s. Storm cloud cover is expected Wednesday, and rain chances increase from 30 percent to 80 percent by Wednesday night in San Andreas. Rain chances decrease slightly for Sonora, from 30 to 60 percent by Wednesday night.
Rain chances continue Thursday, 70 percent in San Andreas and 60 percent in Sonora. Chances of showers continue Thursday night, Friday and Friday night. Saturday is Veterans Day and it’s supposed to be mostly sunny all day with highs in the low 60s for San Andreas and Sonora.
Forecasters on Monday this week also say there is another storm system that could track through the Central Sierra by Sunday this weekend and into next week.
Snow play and ski areas prep
Lance Vetesy, owner at Leland High Sierra Snowplay east of Strawberry on Highway 108, said Monday he and his crew were busy over the past weekend preparing for winter. Vetesy said he always aims for opening around Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving this year is Nov. 23.
“We got rain Saturday and not so much Sunday,” Vetesy said. Leland High Sierra Snowplay is around 6,500 feet elevation off Leland Meadow Road, north of Pinecrest.
Vetesy said he and his staff are hiring for the winter season and they are looking for an additional 20 people.
Staff at Dodge Ridge, elevation 6,600 feet to 8,200 feet elevation east of Pinecrest, don’t have a definite date for opening this winter season, Jeff Hauff, director of marketing and sale for the ski area, said Monday.
“We aren't able to make an official opening day announcement at this time since we rely on natural snowfall to open for the season,” Hauff said. “As soon as we receive enough snowfall to do so, we'll open immediately.”
In 68 years as a business, “we almost always open during the first two weeks of December, sometimes earlier,” Hauff said. Dodge Ridge opened for winter two years ago on Nov. 24, 2015.
Staff at Bear Valley, at 6,600 feet to 8,500 feet elevation, east of Arnold on Highway 4 in Alpine County, say the ski resort has a total of 3 inches so far for the 2017-18 season.
“Another shot of snow is expected to arrive late Wednesday and into the weekend,” Mattly Trent, director of guest safety and ski patrol at Bear Valley, posted online Monday morning. “At the current time this system looks to produce a little bit more snow than the previous one and then next Monday we could see yet another pulse push through.”
Bear Valley staff plan to open on Thanksgiving Day with their 40th annual Winterfest event, billed as family fun with live entertainment, a bonfire and s’mores. Thanksgiving dinner will be available at Creekside Bistro in Bear Valley Lodge.
Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, 7,200 feet to 8,200 feet elevation and formerly known as Badger Pass Ski Area, is projected to open for winter by Dec. 15, depending on weather and snow accumulation, Lisa Cesaro with park concessioner Aramark said Monday.
Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area is inside Yosemite National Park off Glacier Point Road and Wawona Road, also known as Highway 41, in Mariposa County.