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Storm not over yet

October 6, 2010

Mammoth Creek this morning. Mammoth Times Photo/Wendilyn Grasseschi

Mammoth and Mono County residents awoke Wednesday morning to the first real snow of the year on the ground.

About an inch of wet snow covered the lower reaches of the county all the way down to the county line on the Sherwin Grade with far more above the 10,000 foot line, and local weatherman Howard Sheckter said it isn’t over yet.

“I expect another inch or two today and tonight,” he said Wednesday morning. The actual moisture content in the snow was almost an inch of precipitation as of Wednesday morning, with anywhere between six and 12 inches at the higher elevations surrounding Mammoth.

The amount of moisture in the storm was a bit of a surprise to forecasters, he said. Originally, the storm was forecast to be in and out by early this week.

But a system settled in over Baja contained “a lot of humidity” he said, more than forecasters were expecting. That moisture mixed in with a cold dry front coming in from Alaska and both ended up being kept in place by another system, “a huge ridge” that essentially acts like a lid on a pot, keeping the storm from moving out of the area quickly.

That system should break down beginning tomorrow, taking the storm east and giving the Eastern Sierra a chance to dry out, he said.

But not yet.

The cold, wet weather will persist today and through Wednesday night, with several more inches possible in the area. In fact, a Rock Creek Resort employee told the Mammoth Times Wednesday afternoon that it was snowing lightly as we spoke and that the Rock Creek Road was six inches deep in snow, making travel treacherous. (The resort closes Oct. 11, so if you still want a piece of Sue King’s famous pies, time is running out fast.)

Other local roads remain closed as well.

The Reds Meadow Road is still closed, according to Mammoth Visitor Center officials, and will remain so until the conditions improve and vehicles can travel the steep, twisty road safely. The road will close for the season once a foot of snow falls on it. Sonora Pass and Tioga Pass were also closed at the time of this posting, but will reopen when conditions permit.

But the snow probably won’t last long. Sheckter said temperatures are probably going to rise into the 60s this weekend, before they drop a bit by Tuesday into the 50s, then rise again later in the week.

After that?

It’s too early to tell for sure, but Sheckter believes the chances are good that this storm is what he calls a “teaser storm” one of those early season storms that makes you think winter is imminent when it probably is not. He’s waiting to make any more specific calls for another few days, until a some of the weather patterns he’s watching are more defined.

The La Nina’s typically bring on a teaser storm, then it’s warm and dry for a time, sometimes even into November and December, he said.

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