Wet in western Nevada County, but back to snow in the Sierra | TheUnion.com

Wet in western Nevada County, but back to snow in the Sierra

The Union staff

Nearly five more inches of rain poured over the Grass Valley area since Monday afternoon, leaving a wet western Nevada County plagued by swollen streams, downed trees, flooding roadways and mudslides.

Tuesday morning saw the closure of Highways 49, Highway 20 and Interstate 80.

Highway 49 was closed in both directions, between Newtown Road and Pleasant Valley Road, after a large mud and rock slide occurred after 10:30 a.m. near the Independence Trail.

"This one sounds large," CHP Public Information Officer Greg Tassone said. "Caltrans is trying to get in there. Another slide across both lanes, big boulders, big clean-up with a lot of equipment."

A number of additional mudslides that occurred in the closed portion of Highway 49 created more work for Caltrans crews while they worked to clear the initial slide.

An estimated reopening of Highway 49 north of Newtown Road had not been given.

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CHP and Caltrans officials were keeping a close eye on a section of Highway 49 one mile north of Combie and Wolf Roads where a mudslide was developing.

Quaker Hill Cross Road was closed at the top of the grade into Cascade Shores at Pasquale Road due to a dangerous tree leaning over.

"It hasn't fallen but it is expected to go and they're expecting it to hit one home, maybe more," Tassone said.

Highway 49 was also closed about one mile north of Downieville due to another mudslide.

Highway 174 was reopened after 5 p.m. when a mudslide closed the road at the Bear River Bridge.

According to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, 10.77 inches of rain fell in the Grass Valley area between 3 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Tuesday. A total of 4.47 inches had soaked the area since 3 p.m. Monday. Since Jan. 1, Grass Valley has seen 13.38 inches of rain, compared to 3.22 inches in the same span of 2016.

In Nevada City, flooding waters at Broad and Sacramento streets caused the closure of Broad Street below the Highway 20/49 overpass, including the closure of the Broad Street exit from the highway.

Little Deer Creek overlapped it's banks through Pioneer Park flooding the fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits and picnic areas.


Highway 20, east of Nevada City, and Interstate 80 were both also closed by Caltrans Tuesday due to reduced visibility and blizzard-like conditions in the Sierra.

Although this week's warmer winter storm sent snow melt down the western slope of the Sierra sooner than expected, cold temperatures returned to the high country with heavy snowfall.

Northstar California Resort reported 36 inches of fresh snow Tuesday morning, while Heavenly Ski Resort touted a full 4 feet of snow on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Heavenly states it has had 114 inches fall on the resort over the past seven days.

The heavy snow delayed opening hours at both resorts, while nearby resorts such as Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows remain closed Tuesday due to high winds and low visibility. Boreal was also closed, with plans to reopen Wednesday morning.

The snowfall expects to build on a snowpack that measured at 53 percent of normal on Jan. 1, by a state Department of Water Resource survey. A year ago, the snowpack was slightly above normal levels, but rain and snow essentially stopped in February and March, leaving the state at a nearly average year for precipitation on April 1.


The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a flood warning until 2:45 p.m. Thursday for Nevada County and 20 other California counties.

"Small rivers and streams will be on the rise again (Tuesday) following a brief respite over the past 24 hours with widespread small river and stream flooding expected along with urban flooding of poor drainage areas," the weather service reports. "Additional rainfall of 1 to 2 inches can be expected in the Central Valley with 3 to 5 inches in the foothills by early Wednesday."

A high wind warning has also been issued by the weather service with southerly winds gusting at 50 mph or higher later Tuesday and into the evening.

"Traditionally when we get high winds after a soaking wind, the wind tends to drop many, many trees," Tassone said. "We're already anticipating a lot of trees coming down."


The National Weather Service forecast for the rest of the week calls for rain through Thursday, with sunny skies returning to the foothills Friday and into the weekend.

Wednesday's forecast calls for showers and a high temperature near 43. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch are possible. On Thursday, rain and snow showers will continue, with little or no snow accumulation expected.

Partly cloudy skies are predicted for Thursday night, with a low around 32, while Friday's forecast calls for sun with high of 47 and mostly sunny skies on Saturday and Sunday.


Grass Valley recorded rainfall:

4.47 — inches of rain between 3 p.m. Monday and 3 p.m. Tuesday

10.77 — inches of rain between 3 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Tuesday

13.38 — inches of rain between Jan. 1-Jan. 10, 2017

3.22 — inches of rain between Jan. 1-Jan. 10, 2016

47.48 — inches of rain between Oct. 1, 2016 – Jan. 10, 2017

22.16 — inches of rain between Oct. 1, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016

Source: National Weather Service, Sacramento

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