A series of storms that bombarded the West Coast over the past week has left behind California’s biggest snowfall of the winter. Some of the amounts are mind-boggling.
In the highest terrain of the Sierra Nevada, the snow piled up over 10 feet. And 4-to-7-foot amounts were common throughout the mountain chain. Even the Southern California mountains were buried by up to four feet in spots.
The flakes weren’t merely confined to the mountains. The snow dropped into the lower elevations, frosting the hills surrounding the San Francisco Bay area and nearby coastal regions Tuesday.
A crushing snow in the mountains
The parade of storms plastered the tallest peaks in a cement-like snow common on the West Coast. Deep and thick, it is a boon for the state’s water supply.
While an overall positive for ski areas, it fell so hard and fast it was, at times, too much handle. Some resorts were forced to shut down because of the combination of blinding snow and strong winds.
At Mammoth Mountain, no stranger to huge snowfalls, the 89-to-132 inches that fell from the base of the mountain to the top is still hard to fathom.
The storms accounted for about a quarter of the seasonal average of 350 to 400 inches of snow at Mammoth. The resort has also now surpassed last season’s total of 262 inches. In the winter of 2016 and 2017, the mountain reported a near-record 617.5 inches.
Mountain resorts all over the region are celebrating. Sierra at Tahoe picked up enough snow to bury a tall guy standing up. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has received 84 inches of new snow in the past week.
It’s a similar story in southern parts of the state, where up to 43 inches was reported.
As skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes, they are being warned to do so with a buddy and be aware of the risk of falling into extremely deep snow. Avalanches also remain a danger across the region, although resorts tend to clear the most dangerous areas with explosives.
Snow in California’s coastal hills
As the final in the series of storms cycled through, an unusually cold pool of air at high altitudes dropped into California. This brought snow all the way to the coast in parts of the Pacific Northwest and in the adjacent hills in coastal California.
Snowfall totals in and around the San Francisco Bay area included six inches on Mount Hamilton, three inches on Fremont Peak and flakes in the air on Twin Peaks in the city itself.
Throughout the Bay Area and its surroundings, folks woke up Tuesday to the uncommon sight of snow-capped hills. Local weather watchers indicated this was one of the most favorable setups for a winter weather event there in about a decade.
With abundant rainfall this winter in much of the region, fresh and lush greenery was punctuated by a pasting of snow on many hills and mountaintops across the region. The contrast from base to peak, plus a touch of blue sky, created many brilliant scenes.
While it’s out of season for wine country to be hopping, Sonoma County and Napa were both greeted by snow, even at vineyard level in spots.
Paradise, recently destroyed when the Camp Fire roared through, also saw a hefty coating of snow. It created quite the surreal scene.
It was a similar story in Southern California, where snow capped the peaks around Los Angeles and snow fell at relatively low elevations in the high desert.
More snow is on the way in the days ahead, and it could again reach rather low elevations in spots heading into the weekend. California is expected to stay in a wet pattern overall in the time ahead.