Record-setting dry spell about to break


Forecasters predict a foot of snow for midweek

Snow dance, anyone?

Having endured the two driest back-to-back, mid-winter months in recorded history, Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra may get a break beginning Tuesday night, March 5, and Wednesday, March 6, according to the National Weather Service.

How much snow will fall is up in the air, so a good, old-fashioned snow dance still would be appropriate.

Even without the dance, though, forecasters predicted on Thursday, Feb. 28, that there ought to be enough precipitation to break the vexing dry pattern that left Mammoth Mountain Ski Area with just 36 inches of snow in January and February.

That total is the lowest since the ski area began keeping records in the 1969-70 ski season, beating the previous low of 39.5 inches in the drought season of 1984-85.

Even last season, by consensus a disaster snow year across the board because of low snow totals in the holiday seasons, Mammoth Mountain gathered 90.5 inches of snow during January and February, en route to a respectable season total of 263 inches.

This season, because of prodigious snow in November (60.7 inches) and December (147.1 inches), Mammoth Mountain is still skiing well, but nobody wants to think the season is over.

Even a possible weekend lagniappe of an inch or two would ease the anxiety level, which is what the National Weather Service suggested in its weekend forecast.

The more significant action is for Wednesday, March 6, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service in Reno.

“The bulk of the precipitation should reach the Sierra between Tuesday night and midday Wednesday,” the weather service stated in its forecast.

“Snow levels should start at 6,000 to 7,000 feet. This system isn’t too impressive, as the flow is not amplified enough to pick up a subtropical tap, which may limit storm totals. The storm will bring just over a foot along the crest.”

So far, forecasters are holding off in predicting what may happen in March, which traditionally has been a wildly unpredictable snow month in Mammoth.

As recently as 2011, Mammoth was blanketed by 177.5 inches of snow in March en route to a record snow season of 668.5 inches, and in 2006, March yielded 164.1 inches of snow.

On the other hand, in 1971, Mammoth Mountain recorded just one inch of snow in March, one-tenth of an inch in 1997, and just 13 inches in 2007.

Mammothites and visitors ought to bring at least two types of footwear to the ski hill. Snowboard and ski boots, yes.

But they might also want to bring their dancing shoes, too.