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20.7 inches in Grass Valley and counting

Those who love the sight of snowflakes drifting against silent, dark clusters of pines must be having a great time this winter, daydreaming by their windows. And, the weather pundits say, there’s more yet to come.

Grass Valley has already received 20.7 inches of snow this season, according to the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. That is the third highest snowfall recorded in one season since 1965, based on figures provided by George Cline, forecaster at the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

The winter of 1973-74 ranks at the top of the maximum amount of snowfall – 24.5 inches – in Grass Valley since 1965. The 1990-91 season saw 22 inches of snow, the second highest total.



“It is very unusual for us to get this much snow in a row,” said Jim Beatie at the Grass Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant about this month’s precipitation. “Normally it snows here maybe three times in winter. We’ve gotten snow eight days this month.”

A Grass Valley resident for 28 years, Beatie does not recall having seen snowfall for so many days in any season.




Winters in this region have been harsher in the past, however.

In 1951-52, Grass Valley received 126 inches of snow, according to Jim Ashby, climatologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno. In the season of 1948-49, 90 inches of snow fell in Grass Valley.

In 1936-37, Nevada City received 104.8 inches of snow. The next high snowfall was in 1951-52 when the city recorded 87 inches. In the winters of 1948-49 and 1949-50, Nevada City got 74.7 inches and 76.5 inches, respectively.

“It doesn’t happen every year but it does happen; we get snow in Grass Valley once in a while,” said Harry Stockman of Qwikcast.com. “There are instances when we get a series of storms.

“Every year there is something unusual about the weather. There are records set every year. Those records can be for hot or cold or too dry or too wet. But, by themselves, they do not indicate a long-term trend or a shift in global climate.”

New snow showers were predicted from Monday afternoon through this evening at levels ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 feet by the National Weather Service.

A winter storm warning is in effect from 4 p.m. through tonight. Winds are expected to reach up to 70 miles per hour and to create hazardous traveling conditions in the mountain passes. Several inches of snow are expected above 2,000 feet, with some snow as low as 1,000 feet. Eight to 10 inches of snow are expected above 3,000 feet and more than 2 feet of snow is predicted above 7,000 feet by this evening.

The warning advised motorists to slow down and allow extra time when traveling. Travelers were asked to keep food, water and an extra flashlight in their vehicles.

Chances of rain showers have been predicted from Wednesday through Saturday this week.

“To me it is fine,” said Nicholas George, resident of Cedar Ridge and weather watcher for The Union. “I have no problem driving in it. I love it.”

An avid skier for more than 40 years, George recalls witnessing “much snow in the April of 2003.”

“I live on a hilltop because I like to look at the weather, and snowy weather is some of the most interesting to watch,” he said. “Where else do you get to see the tracks of all the animals that visit your property?”

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To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

Big winter blasts

Grass Valley

1951-52: 126 inches

1948-49: 90 inches

1973-74: 24.5 inches

1990-91: 22 inches

2005-06: 20.7 inches

1966 -67: 19.7 inches

Nevada City*

1936-37: 104.8 inches

1951-52: 87 inches

1949-50: 76.5 inches

1948-49: 74.7 inches

1988-89: 48.5 inches

*2005-06 totals not available for Nevada City

Sources: National Weather Service; Desert Research Institute


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