By Stephen Kulieke
Snow and rain. Overnight temperatures below freezing. Chain controls on major highways.
Spring-blooming tulips and daffodils may be wilting and drivers grumbling. But a surprising return to winter this week is good news for the thirsty Northern Sierra.
The beginning of the work week on Monday saw snow-covered decks and outdoor furniture at higher elevations of the county (see photo). And as The Mountain Messenger went to press, a bigger storm was descending on the region: snow is expected from Wednesday evening through late Thursday, with 6-12 inches projected above 4,500’ and even more possible over mountain peaks, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento. And, unsettled weather is expected to continue.
“At least for the next week, we could be in a fairly good position for storms,” said Andrew Schwartz, station manager at UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory. Schwartz also told The Messenger the April snow is a “nice little surprise at this point. The more snow we get before we go into the summer season will keep a lid on fire danger as well.”
Located at Soda Springs near Donner Summit, the lab on Monday received almost eight inches of snow—the first increase in “snow water equivalent” (the amount of water in the snowpack) in over three weeks.
Given the snowy forecast, Caltrans “definitely” expects chain control to be in effect for this week’s Wednesday-to-Thursday storm on 80 and 50. It’s also possible chains could be required on secondary routes in the area, such as Highways 49 and 89 .
“It depends on how heavy the snow hits and what road conditions are like,” Caltrans District 3 Public Information Officer Raquel Borrayo told The Messenger. “Our crews are very skilled and they make the call if chains are needed.”
Following a 2021-22 winter that started promising but then disappointed, the April precipitation is highly welcome. If we’re lucky, there’ll be weather breaks this weekend to allow for area Easter celebrations, including popular events on Saturday for children:
- Treasure Mountain 4-H presents their Annual Easter Egg Hunt, Calpine Park on April 16 at 10 a.m.-12 noon
- Downieville Volunteer Fire Department presents Easter Egg Hunt at the Downieville School on April 16 at 12 noon