Eastern Sierra Weathers the Storms

Over the weekend, the much anticipated storms hit California. The rain and high winds caused major power outages across the state. Heavy Snows shut down interstate 80 over at times and a broken levee in Fernley, Nevada has brought FEMA to the region after 800 homes were inundated. Despite the reported 5-7 feet of new snow on Mammoth Mountain, all in all the Eastern Sierra appears to have fared better than other parts of the state.
Before the storms started on Friday, National Weather Service forecasters warned that driving in the Sierra Nevada could be life threatening. High rates of snowfall were expected along with high winds. As predicted, all these ingredients did show up. High winds had shut down 395 to high profile vehicles by Thursday. The heavy snowfall arrived as well, much of the snow falling Saturday night. Pre-storm estimates of 2-3 inches an hour proved to be true.

With the heavy snowfall and high winds predicted for Friday night, Inyo County Officials had opened up an emergency shelter at the Fairgrounds in Bishop. When the highway didnt close down Friday night as expected, the shelter was shut down. 395 over Conway did close Friday, and 395 up the Sherwin Grade did eventually close Sunday morning.

Snow on Saturday night lead to chain control from Big Pine north, but rain was the real story in the Owens Valley. Some minor flooding was reported, along with downed trees and limbs. Its been a while since Owens Valley roofs were tested by a storm and more than a few failed.

At the Bishop Airport, the 72 hour total through last night was 3.91 inches. Not too shabby considering the average amount that falls in a year is 5.26 inches. Mammoth Mountain reported 5-7 feet of new snow for the storm total bringing their total to 154 inches for the season.

Sloppy roads made for difficult driving conditions. On Friday afternoon, skiers were still headed up the grade. In Mammoth R-2 conditions started Friday and lasted all weekend. Town was quiet overall, but people did make it up to the mountain to ride the fresh powder. Maybe it was all locals up there, but those who made it did appear to be having a good time.

With heavy snow falling, this storm was different then the storms over New Years two years ago in that the power stayed on for the most part. The winds were high at Mammoth Mountain, one gust reached 132 mph on Friday, but winds never really showed up in town. Power outages were reported in the Crowley Lake area, June Lake, and Benton, but nothing wide spread like in other areas of the state.

With the National Weather Service predicting a major storm, the State Office of emergency Services worked with local government agencies to prepare for the storm. The Mono County Sheriffs Office, worked with the MLPD to issue a reverse 911 phone call to urge residents to be prepared.

With so much advance warning before this storm, some are saying that the storm received too much hype. Business owners in Mammoth have complained that authorities overreacted and discouraged visitors.

 

 
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