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February 15, 2013
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Warm weekend to be followed by low snow

Residents of the Sierra foothills may finally awaken to snow early next week.

Weather forecasters are predicting a moderate storm to strike the area by Tuesday morning after a weekend of sunny skies and warm temperatures.

“Tuesday is the main event,” National Weather Service meteorologist Johnnie Powell said.

The storm, which Powell described as “below average” for this time of year, will be accompanied by a cold front. The cold temperatures, a high of 40 is predicted for Tuesday, will allow for the snow line to creep down to about 2,000 feet, Powell said.

Accumulations for most of western Nevada County are expected to hover around 1 to 2 inches. In the higher elevations, about a foot of snow is expected.

While the storm is not quite the large system that typically traverses across Northern California in middle of the winter season, it could be a portent of things to come.

“We usually see about two-to-three week weather patterns,” Powell said.

Some long-range forecasts already show some minor storms lining up behind the initial one expected to arrive Tuesday, Powell said.

“Nothing major, but we could be in for a wet pattern,” Powell said. “The (Tuesday storm) will prime it up for a good one.”

Powell said the region could be in for a couple more storms before the spring arrives.

After a fast start to the water year, things have slowed down considerably with very slight precipitation since Christmas, Powell said.

Despite arid weather conditions, the seasonal precipitation and water storage remained above average levels, the Nevada Irrigation District said in an early February news release.

NID measured snowpack depth and water content on six mountain snow courses and found that the average water content fulfilled 85 percent of the Feb. 1 average.

“Storage is good in district reservoirs due to the nearly 200 percent of average precipitation we received in November and December,” Sue Sindt, NID operations supervisor who oversees the district’s snow survey program, said in the news release. Following the second snowpack survey of 2013 measured Jan. 29, officials with the California Department of Water Resources reported water content in California’s mountain snowpack is below average for the date.

This comes only a month after officials were reporting snowpack conditions to be well above average. Statewide water content was at 93 percent of average for this time of year. The water content is at 55 percent of the average April 1 measurement, when the snowpack is normally at its peak before the spring melt.

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

“Nothing major, but we could be in for a wet pattern. The (Tuesday storm) will prime it up for a good one.”

— meteorologist Johnnie PowelL


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The Union Updated Feb 18, 2013 04:05PM Published Feb 18, 2013 03:34PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.