Forecasters predict winter storm set to hit Tuesday

Winter may finally deign to make a 2013 appearance in Northern California this week.

On the heels of revealing the driest start to a calendar year in nearly a century, weather officials are predicting a winter storm will trundle through western Nevada County Tuesday through Thursday.

The storm, which is expected to drop a foot of snow in the high elevations, will likely bring a mix of rain and snow to the Sierra foothills, with minor accumulation possible overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning, said National Weather Service forecaster Karl Swanberg.

The storm, which is approaching slowly from the Gulf of Alaska, will bring colder temperatures at the latter portion of its progress, Swanberg said.

Cooler temperatures are expected to prevail through the weekend with highs in the upper 40s and lows hovering at the freezing level.

Only 2.3 inches fell in January and February, according to measurements taken at eight weather stations staggered throughout the Northern Sierra.

The measurement was the lowest since officials began keeping records in 1921. The paucity of snowfall in the mountains has resulted in “a well below average” water content in the mountain snowpack, according to the California Department of Water Resources, which conducted its third snow survey of the season last week.

The Nevada Irrigation District said that despite the dry winter season, water storages still remain above the seasonal average.

Tom Dang of the National Weather Service said last week that many Northern California reservoirs were reporting above average levels, largely due to heavy precipitation in November and December. Nevertheless, a slender snowpack will have impacts on agricultural water supply.

“Dry weather combined with pumping restrictions to protect Delta smelt are making this a gloomy water supply year,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin last week. “This scenario is exactly why we need an alternative water conveyance system as proposed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to both protect fish species and give California a reliable water supply.”

Swanberg said the mid-week storm is not necessarily an indication of a wet weather trend for the duration of March, but all it takes is one or two storms to change the outlook.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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The Union Updated Mar 6, 2013 10:00AM Published Mar 6, 2013 10:39AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.