There’s more sunshine and highs in the 60s and 70s expected this weekend up and down the Mother Lode, with increasing potential for fire starts in dry conditions.

It’s been more than two weeks since the last recorded rainfall in Sonora, and a drought monitor map now shows all of Tuolumne County and most of Calaveras County are abnormally dry. The highest, easternmost reaches of Tuolumne County and the Tuolumne River watershed, including 13,050-foot Mount Dana and 13,120-foot Mount Lyell, are now in a stage of moderate drought.

There’s a chance of light mountain snow coming Monday, followed by more sunny weather and daytime highs in the 60s for foothill towns along Highway 49.

Late next week a change to cooler, wetter conditions is possible, but forecast confidence for the change is low.

Today there’s a wind advisory for winds gusting to 40 miles per hour in the Sacramento Valley. The wind advisory area does not include the Mother Lode. Highs in the 60s are expected today and Sunday in San Andreas, Angels Camp and Columbia.

It’s like springtime in February in the foothills, but it’s below freezing at night right now high on the crest of the Central Sierra.

Overnight lows from 18 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit are expected tonight at Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4, Sonora Pass on Highway 108, and Tioga Pass on Highway 120. Snow showers are possible Monday and Monday night, when lows are expected to dip into the teens at Ebbetts and Sonora, and as low as 10 degrees at Tioga Pass.

If there is snowfall Monday, it is likely to remain above elevations of 5,000 feet and higher with “very light accumulation,” National Weather Service forecasters in Sacramento said Friday. They also described potential for snow showers as “hit-or-miss.”

Caltrans crews based in Mono County tested snow removal equipment this week near Ellery Lake on Highway 120 and the east side of Tioga Pass. A spokeswoman for Caltrans District 9 in Bishop said crews will assess all passes for spring opening on April 1.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter @GuyMcCarthy.

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