Although the wet storm whipping through western Nevada County over the weekend dropped the most rain the region has received this winter season, it hardly made a dent in the precipitation deficit Northern California has seen since the start of the drought.
Through 1 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service reported 10.10 inches of rain had fallen at the Nevada County Air Park since Wednesday, with 5.9 inches falling over the previous 24 hours.
Still, a photo the weather service posted on its Twitter account Friday, on its weekend predictions, put that precipitation into perspective.
“Here in our office, to put the weekend rain into perspective, we had a 10-ounce coffee cup sitting next to a 5 gallon bucket — the 10-ounce cup represented the storm this weekend and the 5-gallon bucket was (the lack of water since the winter of 2011-12),” said Stefanie Henry, a forecaster with the weather service in Sacramento.
Several more storms need to soon line up behind the one that washed through the western county this weekend to even reach normal precipitation levels, let alone approach making up the drought deficit, Henry said.
“Several more (storms) would have to bring us way above normal precipitation to bring us up to normal,” she said. “But this is the most significant rainfall event we’ve seen this season.”
How much the rainfall will impact the Sierra Nevada snowpack remains to be seen. But any accumulation will be a welcome addition to a snowpack that Nevada Irrigation District measured at 7 percent of normal one week ago today.
“We’re remaining optimistic that we will see some big changes in the weather patterns that will produce needed snowpack,” NID Operations Administrator Sue Sindt, who oversees the district’s snow survey program, said in last week’s news release.
“We’ve asked for voluntary water conservation, but if the dry pattern persists, further actions may be required.”
Sugar Bowl Resort in Norden reported Sunday that the storm brought 50 inches of new snow, including 27 inches between Saturday and Sunday. Northstar California recorded a fresh 3 feet of snow at its summit Sunday morning. In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly ski resort reported 26 inches of new snow, with another 6 to 14 inches more expected throughout the ski day.
The snowfall had the California Department of Transportation stopping both eastbound and westbound trucks traveling Interstate 80 across the Sierra for chain control.
Closer to home, fallen trees and power outages were reported in western Nevada County, including a Friday outage that impacted roughly 3,200 Pacific Gas an d Electric customers, PG&E spokesperson Brandi Ehlers tweeted Friday afternoon. All customers had service restored by about 5:40 p.m.
On Sunday afternoon, PG&E reported working on an outage in the Alta Sierra area that impacted five customers. But that outage, PG&E stated, was due to planned maintenance work, and restoration of power was expected by 8 p.m. Sunday.
“There are a series of systems coming through the Pacific Northwest this week, but it’s really uncertain how far south into California they will go. The northern state will seen rain as early as Tuesday, but it’s hard to say at this point if that one will go down into Sacramento or Grass Valley,” Henry said.
Monday’s weather pattern posed a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 10 a.m., the weather service predicted, with partly sunny skies and a high near 57 degrees. A 20 percent chance of rain after 10 p.m. Tuesday is the next potential precipitation.
“There will again be slight chances of rainfall beginning Thursday evening and then through the weekend,” Henry said.
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