A series of three winter storms are expected to hit the Eastern Sierra this week, beginning early Thursday evening and extending into Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
The snow is to come in three pulses, one Thursday night into Friday, one Friday evening into Saturday, and the last, Saturday evening into Monday.
“It will be a wet pattern, that we have high confidence in,” said Edan Lindaman, a forecaster with the Reno office of the weather service.
But it’s too soon to know one critical fact—where the storm will hit the Pacific Coast.
“The models are messy,” she said. “We keep hoping they will align, but so far, no. It’s that time of year, when we are in transition and it makes it hard to get an accurate, detailed forecast.”
The confusion is over how far north the moisture will go, which, in turn, affects how much snow the Mammoth area will get, say, as opposed to the Tahoe area.
Lindaman said the bulk of the four-day system is aiming more for the North Sierra, near Tahoe, as opposed to the Mammoth area, which could mean relatively less local snow depth.
“It all depends on if the storm sets up, near the Bay Area, or farther south,” she said. “But at the moment, we don’t see Mammoth getting the direct hit. We think that will be north of I-80 (Donner Pass).”
She predicted anywhere from several inches to a foot or two on Mammoth Mountain, depending on where the storm hits, and a few inches of very wet snow in the Town of Mammoth Lakes by Monday.
Even more critical for a big dump of a storm is temperature—the colder the temperature, the higher the precipitation-to-snow ratio. The three storms this weekend are forecast to be warm storms, which means more moisture will fall as rain.
After Monday, the pattern dries out, she said.
“We might see another system near the end of the month,” she said.