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April 2, 2013
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More wet weather headed to Nevada County


An inch and a quarter of precipitation fell on Nevada County starting Sunday afternoon and continuing overnight into Monday, weather officials said.

Rain mixed with sporadic bursts of hail struck the Sierra foothills, bringing much-needed moisture to a region that has seen relatively slight precipitation during the winter season.

“Every little bit helps,” said Karl Swanberg, National Weather Service Forecaster. “We probably won’t fully recover, but these spring systems will help.”

Sporadic showers continued through Monday afternoon previous to a predicted clearing in the weather pattern, according to the forecast.

Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to feature clear sunny skies with daytime temperatures approaching 70 degrees, Swanberg said.

Wet weather is expected to return Wednesday night into Thursday and mostly cloudy weather with periodic bouts of rain will persist throughout the weekend, Swanberg said.

January and February combined to create the driest start to a calendar year in the history of record keeping, which began in the 1920s. A total of 2.3 inches of precipitation fell since December 2012, according to measurements taken at eight weather stations staggered throughout the Northern Sierra. About 4 inches fell in the month of March, bringing the total to about 40 inches, roughly 80 percent of average.

Despite the paucity of precipitation in 2013, reservoir levels continue to be solid as Bullards Bar is currently listed at 116 percent of average, Swanberg said.

Shasta Lake, Oroville Reservoir and Folsom Lake all hover near 100 percent of average.

However, the snowpack, which provides about one-third of water to California houses and farms as it melts and swells the Sierra streams, is about half of normal.

“With most of the wet season behind us, this is more gloomy news for our summer water supply,” California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said Friday.

The fourth snow survey is particularly important as it represents the typical peak of the snowpack before warmer temperatures precipitate the melting period, according to a DWR release. The season’s final survey occurs in May and measures the rate of melt.

November and December storms built water in California’s snowpack up to 134 percent of average by the start of January, but high-pressure systems then became extremely persistent and blocked large storms from coming off the Pacific for much of the winter, Gehrke said.

“Most of the snow on the ground is what fell back in December,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey program, during the survey at Phillips Station, near the entrance to Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort.

The snow surveyor expected minor storms next month but wasn’t hopeful for a miracle April.

“What we’ve got right now is what we’re going to get,” Gehrke said.

He said it would take about 22 inches of rain — or approximately 18 feet of snow — in the next month to catch the state up to historic averages. Snowfall of that magnitude would be “way beyond what we’ve ever seen,” Gehrke said.

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


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The Union Updated Apr 2, 2013 03:32AM Published Apr 3, 2013 12:57AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.