This weekend is supposed to be mostly sunny to sunny across most of Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, and another storm system could track far enough south Saturday and Saturday night to bring a slight chance of snow showers to places like Arnold and Calaveras Big Trees.
The likelihood of more snow is slim though, with forecasts showing less than 1 inch possible at Donner Pass on Interstate 80, and 0 inches predicted for Carson Pass, Ebbetts Pass, Sonora Pass and Tioga Pass.
The storm that blew through with low elevation snow and slush Thursday and Thursday night left melting snow and ice and black ice in shaded spots Friday, leading to slick, slippery and slushy driving conditions Friday morning for many Mother Lode motorists.
In locations like downtown Sonora, where rain preceded the heaviest snowfall about 7 p.m. Thursday, snow froze overnight on a layer of hard ice, leaving some residents to work with shovels and brooms to clear porch stairs, sidewalks and driveways.
Someone posted a video online Friday that showed a head-on collision involving two vehicles on a slick section of Highway 108 near Mono Way and Peaceful Oak Road.
Dispatchers with the California Highway Patrol in Jamestown reported 22 traffic incidents during the storm period and its aftermath, from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, said CHP Officer Faustino Pulido.
Plow truck drivers and other road workers were busy Friday morning. Some vehicles were found abandoned on roadsides up Highway 108 between Soulsbyville and Twain Harte.
Many schools in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties started two hours late Friday, with delayed school bus schedules due to winter road conditions, and some schools did not open at all.
At Columbia Elementary, maintenance workers started work at 5:30 a.m. and used more than 500 pounds of ice melt, a blend of salt, magnesium and calcium chloride pellets to melt snow on all surfaces children would be walking on later in the day, Joe Aldridge, the superintendent and principal for the school said Friday at the school.
In some colder, shaded, north-facing locations that get the least direct sunshine, snow and ice and black ice remained a driving hazard, including Tuolumne Road past Black Oak Road through at least 10 a.m. Friday, Sawmill Flat Road between Parrotts Ferry Road and Big Hill Road through 10 a.m., and Phoenix Lake Road up until at least noon.
Conditions were ideal for burning fuel Friday on state parks land off Springfield Road, where about two dozen inmate firefighters worked with Cal Fire personnel and Eric Newquist, a state parks technical supervisor to ignite and monitor pile burns.
How much did it snow?
Downtown Sonora got a quarter-inch to a half-inch of snow Thursday night.
Between 8 a.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday, the town of Jackson on Highway 49 in Amador County got a dusting of snow, Glencoe on Highway 26 between Mokelumne Hill and West Point in Calaveras County got 2 inches of snow and Twain Harte off Highway 108 in Tuolumne County got 3.5 inches, Hannah Chandler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said in a phone interview.
Higher up Highway 4, Bear Valley got 11 inches and Dodge Ridge up Highway 108 got 9 inches. Bear Valley was open Friday and Dodge Ridge staff said skiing and riding operations remained on temporary hold.
“We will remain on a temporary hold for all skiing and snowboarding operations this weekend Saturday and Sunday, February 24th & 25th, and if next week’s storms deliver enough snow as forecast, we will reopen,” Dodge Ridge communications staff posted online.
Further up Highway 108, staff at Leland High Sierra Snowplay posted video showing steady snowfall Thursday and emphasized they are open all week and into this weekend.
The most recent storm brought winter home with a freezing cold kick for most Mother Lode foothill residents, but it did little to change the overall water picture for the Central Sierra in a drier than normal winter season.
According to a five-station index for major watersheds in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, precipitation for the current water year that started Oct. 1 is 9.8 inches, just 38 percent of average for the date Feb. 23.
Scientists with the U.S. Drought Monitor this week said all of Calaveras County is abnormally dry right now. Most of Tuolumne County is in moderate drought, like nearly half the Golden State.
Over in Yosemite National Park on Friday, park staff said Badger Pass Road was closed, while motorists on Big Oak Flat Road from the Highway 120 park entrance to Crane Flat and on Hetch Hetchy Road were required to have chains or four-wheel drive with snow tires.
Motorists on all roads in Yosemite Valley and Highway 140 were required to have chains or snow tires. The Tioga Road section of Highway 120 in the park and Glacier Point Road are both closed for winter.
Foothill towns like Sonora can expect daytime highs around 50 today and 55 Sunday and overnight lows in the 30s before another storm system with rain showers Monday and rain or snow Monday night.
The rain chance Monday is 90 percent for Jamestown, Sonora and Angels Camp. In Columbia there’s a 90 percent chance of rain or snow. Monday night the chances of rain or snow drop to 30 percent.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.