Numerous crashes and other traffic incidents have occurred on slick roads in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties since rain and snow began early Tuesday.
Showers and mountain snow are expected to continue today through Saturday in the Mother Lode and higher in the Central Sierra.
Between 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday, San Andreas received 2.07 inches of rain, Angels Camp got 1.79 inches, Sonora got 1.73 inches and Groveland got 1.81 inches, Mike Kochasic, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said in a phone interview.
At higher elevations, Calaveras Big Trees on Highway 4 got 2.78 inches, and Dodge Ridge got 2.83 inches. Kochasic emphasized the measurements at Calaveras Big Trees and Dodge Ridge are for snow-water equivalents, because much of the precipitation Tuesday and early Wednesday came as snow.
Staff at Dodge Ridge said Wednesday morning they got 9 inches of powder snow at their 8,200-foot summit and more than 6 inches at the 6,600-foot base. They were expecting 5 to 8 inches more snow by Thursday morning.
Winter storm warning
A winter storm warning was in effect through 11 p.m. Wednesday for most of the Stanislaus National Forest and the rest of the Central Sierra above 5,000 feet elevation. A winter weather advisory for elevations above 4,000 feet was issued for 5 p.m. Thursday through 5 a.m. Saturday.
Snow totals for Friday in the high Central Sierra could reach up to 2 feet.
Unsafe speeds on wet road surfaces were cited Tuesday in at least two Tuolumne County crashes, and one of them was fatal.
About 11 a.m. Tuesday on Highway 120 between Tulloch Road and the junction with La Grange Road, a woman named Marian Shinko, 80, of Walnut Creek was driving a 2007 compact sport utility vehicle east when she crashed.
“Due to her unsafe speed for the wet roadway surface, she was unable to negotiate a curve in the road and lost control of her vehicle,” Officer Faustino Pulido with Sonora CHP said in a statement.
Shinko’s vehicle went into the center median, crashed into a tree, overturned and caught fire. A passing motorist stopped, got her out and started CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
About four hours later, at 3:05 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 120, Ignacio Moreno, 58, of Ripon, was driving a 2008 Chevrolet van west in the same area approaching Tulloch Dam Road at an estimated 65 miles per hour in the right lane of the four-lane highway.
California Highway Patrol Officer Joelle McChesney said Moreno came up behind a slower vehicle, tried to switch to the left lane closer to the median and, due to unsafe speed for the wet road surface, he lost control.
Moreno’s van left the road and went into the center median, up an embankment, overturned and came to a stop lying on its passenger side. Moreno was taken to Adventist Health Sonora with moderate injuries.
Wet weather is expected to last into Saturday. Overnight lows in foothill towns like Sonora could drop into the mid- to low 30s Thursday through Saturday. Daytime highs are expected to remain below 50 degrees. Chances of showers are 50 percent Thursday, 90 percent Thursday night, 90 percent Friday, 70 percent Friday night and 60 percent Saturday.
Winds gusting up to 30 mph Thursday could cause problems in places like Sonora and Columbia and other towns on the Highway 49 corridor.
Depending on how cold it gets and how low freezing temperatures come down into the foothills, snow levels could drop to 2,500 feet by Saturday morning. Sonora could get up to 2 more inches of rain by Saturday. Wednesday to Saturday, Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 and Sonora Pass on Highway 108 could get as much as 4 more feet of snow, and Tioga Pass on Highway 120 could get 2 feet to 30 inches more snow.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.