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Winter could hit again, just in time for spring

March 29, 2013

Spring—or winter? That depends on what happens in the next few weeks, as a persistant, storm-blocking high-pressure system finally dissolves over the Sierra. Here, Long Valley cattle wait for a storm to break. Photo/Wendilyn Grasseschi


A large high-pressure ridge is breaking down

Just in time for spring, winter weather could come back.

For the past three months, almost every storm heading to the Eastern Sierra didn’t.

Instead, blocked by a persistent and massive high-pressure ridge, the storms have funneled east, keeping California high and dry and giving the Great Plains and eastern United States a winter to remember.

That high-pressure ridge is finally breaking down and that could mean there is still some time to make up for a three-month dry spell.

“Good riddance to that awful block!” wrote Howard Sheckter, Mammoth’s amateur weather forecaster, in a recent website post. “Although the Weather Weenies across the eastern United States have loved every minute of it … that block has been a problem for most of California.”

He noted that the other side of the globe has also experienced a different winter from sunny California this year.

“These blocks form connections which keep pressure anomalies in the upper atmosphere which correlate to other parts of the world. In this case, this has correlated to one of the heaviest winters in 100 years in Europe,” he said. “It’s been blamed on 5,000 deaths and record cold.

“Now that it’s falling apart, the door will open soon,” Sheckter said. “Eventually, the Eastern Pacific will open up.”

That could happen as soon as this weekend.

“There is a subtropical jet moving over Hawaii right now,” he said. “That could bring light precipitation this week, perhaps over this weekend, meaning Easter Sunday. It looks good for the Southern Sierra and Central Sierra (Mammoth Lakes is considered to be in the Central Sierra).”

Next week looks even better, he said.

“We could get a real storm between the first of April and mid-April,” he said. “I would not be surprised to get a three-foot dump. Now, I’m not forecasting a three-foot dump. I’m just saying, I would not be surprised.  That could move us up to 80 percent to 90 percent of normal.”

Edan Lindaman, a meteorologist with the Reno-based office of the National Weather Service, wasn’t as clear about a large, high-pressure block over the area being the cause of the dry weather, but she said the Sierra was in for a change.

“We have been in a very quiet weather pattern for the past few months, with a few small systems coming and going,” she said. “That pattern is breaking down.”

She expects snow above 8,000 feet this weekend, with rain below that, but said it’s still too soon to declare where the storm will hit the Sierra.

“It could go 100 miles north or south of you, and that will determine how much moisture you get,” she said.

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