2012 is a banner year for NorCal snowpack | TheUnion.com

2012 is a banner year for NorCal snowpack

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

Snowpack accumulation in 2012 has outpaced last year by an enormous amount, said weather officials.

"A quick look at the Sierra or Shasta county mountains shows that locations which had only a few inches of snow cover near
the end of 2011 are currently under several feet of snow," the National Weather Service in Sacramento posted on its official Facebook page.

"Precipitation amounts across portions of the Northern Sierra Nevada are running from 150 to as much as 200 percent of normal for this time of year."

What is responsible for the astronomical amount of precipitation in the region throughout November and December?

"We've had many strong troughs from the Gulf of Alaska and the northwest coast," said Craig Shoemaker, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "These systems have brought a lot of moisture to the region."

Last year, precipitation fell in early October and stayed away until about Valentine's Day. This year, cloudy skies have reigned.

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However, the patterns are set to change as the 10-day forecast for the region shows a drier pattern settling in due to a high pressure system establishing itself over Northern California, Shoemaker said.

The high pressure system will deflect the storm track to the north while allowing some minor "moisture-starved" systems to filter into the area, Shoemaker said.

For the upcoming weekend, a few minor systems are expected to parade through the Sierra foothills, but no more than a quarter-inch of precipitation is predicted.

"This is how it goes — you get fluctuations — a period of intense activity followed by a down period," Shoemaker said.

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

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