The promise of snow in Sonora made fits and starts Thursday, and then it began to snow more steadily after sundown at higher elevations near town with snow sticking and covering rooftops and vehicles in places such as Rancho Sonora Estates and below Soulsbyville.
By 7 p.m. there was a layer of white snow sticking and melting on everything in downtown Sonora, where motorists in white-dusted vehicles slowed to manageable speeds on the quarter-inch to half-inch of white slush that coated the streets.
At 7:09 p.m. a Sonora City Fire Department ladder truck came booming down South Washington Street with lights and sirens to turn left slowly onto West Stockton.
Whether any more snow or how much more snow would fall Thursday night was not clear before 8 p.m. There were reports of a power outage in Twain Harte by 7:15 p.m.
The white stuff on South Washington was melting by 7:30 p.m.
Between 7 p.m. and 7:53 p.m., there was an announcement for chain requirements on Highway 108 at Standard Road, three vehicles stuck in snow at Cabezut Road and Greenley Road, at least two vehicles without chains that lost control at Tuolumne Road and Black Oak Road, a non-injury collision at Columbia College Drive and Sawmill Flat Road, and another collision with unspecified injuries at Phoenix Lake Road and North Hess Avenue, Sonora CHP personnel reported.
Earlier Thursday, very little snow fell before sundown in Sonora and other Mother Lode foothill towns. Forecasts had called for up to 2 inches of snow in places like Sonora.
Forecasters in Sacramento said the potential for snow down to 1,000-foot elevations would continue through early Friday.
Flurries of Rice Krispie fragment-size flakes came down before 5 p.m. in downtown Sonora, but most appeared to melt as soon as they landed on pavement, asphalt and parked vehicles. Another forecast for chances of snow was expected just after sundown.
Rain showers transitioned to snow showers for a brief time in downtown Sonora just before and after 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Low-lying dark gray cloud cover blanketed the skies over Sonora through the afternoon.
Brief flurries also fell in downtown Sonora before 9 a.m., dusting porches and parked vehicles with white specks that looked like fine-grain laundry detergent before it rapidly melted.
Steadier morning snowfall was reported in the Jamestown area before 9 a.m. Thursday, though whatever hit the ground there also melted.
National Weather Service forecasters in Sacramento said chances of snow in the Mother Lode foothills would persist until early today. A winter weather advisory for Central Sierra foothills and east up to the Sierra Nevada crest was scheduled to expire at 10 p.m. Thursday. Friday in Sonora is expected to be sunny with highs in the 40s.
There was already enough snow at some higher elevations for skiers and snowboarders. Up Highway 4 east of Calaveras Big Trees, staff at Bear Valley Mountain Resort said they had 24 trails and seven lifts open with 300 acres available, about 25 percent of the resort’s total terrain.
Other ski areas were closed. At Dodge Ridge, skiing and snowboarding operations remained on temporary hold Thursday. Staff at Dodge Ridge posted online they were waiting “for Mother Nature to deliver the next round of significant winter storms. Stay tuned, the forecast appears to be making a positive switch to winter.”
Further up Highway 108, Leland High Sierra Snowplay staff said they were open all week this week.
Leland High Sierra Snowplay staff said they were expecting weak but very cold storms with periodic snow flurries “and very cold temperatures.” This is the coldest it’s been so far this season, and it’s great for snow making. But it will be cold on the hill.”
In spite of freezing cold and some snow at higher elevations this week, the Aramark concessioner that runs Badger Pass, now known as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, announced Wednesday the attraction will remain closed this entire winter season.
Season pass holders will be offered the option to roll over their passes to the 2018-19 season or a refund.
Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area is inside Yosemite National Park. The scheduled operating season for next winter is posted online as Dec. 14, 2018 to March 31, 2019, conditions permitting.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.