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Wild weather stuns, amazes Eastern Sierra all year long

December 30, 2010

It was a year of extremes.

Right off the bat, Mammoth hit 110 percent of normal snowfall.

Then, spring simply never showed up until it stopped snowing the last week of May. A cool and green May gave way to a gorgeous June and even July, as the massive snow and rain from the previous six months prolonged the arid Eastside’s green and flowing period far into August.

Summer was one of the most beautiful in collective memory.

Crowley Lake and Long Valley were emerald green until August, and the High Country put on a display of wildflowers that was astonishing.

Every flower in the Sierra bloomed at the same time, instead of in phases common to lower-precipitation years.

Then, for a brief, blessed moment, things dried out and August was warm and dry. It was also terribly smoky, a result of a long-burning Westside fire that hit southern Mono County and all of Inyo County with lung-clogging smoke for six weeks.

In September, it began to rain. It rained, sometimes mixed with snow, every weekend except one for the next two months, only drying out in November, albeit briefly.

Rain is not common in the Eastside, and certainly not in September and October. But the rain and cool days made for a spectacular, long-lasting fall color show, and the trees didn’t turn brown until mid-November.

For two weeks, it was warm and sunny, and then, right before Thanksgiving, Mammoth Mountain got a five-foot dump of snow.

The storm also broke records for cold – Bridgeport, at minus 18 degrees on one day before Thanksgiving, hit the coldest temperature in many decades for that time of year.

And the wild weather still didn’t stop.

By Christmas, a four-day storm had dumped more than 15 more feet of snow on the mountains, breaking records both local and regional, and leaving Mammoth with a head start on snowfall for 2011 year, not to mention a bottomless base.

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