Too little, too late? No matter. Sacramento and Northern California will see a dose of welcome April showers over the next three days, starting near noon on Sunday.
Up to a quarter-inch of rain is forecast for Sunday, with another half-inch to an inch during heavier storms Monday night and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
But the real blessing will be in the form of snow – 4 to 8 inches – in the Sierra Nevada mountains at elevations above 3,500 feet on Sunday, with a second storm bringing as much as a foot to many Sierra areas Monday and Tuesday.
The region may see some thunderstorms on Tuesday, and a bit of precipitation in the mountains as late as Wednesday. The state Department of Transportation and weather service officials are warning motorists to expect winter driving conditions and possible road delays.
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Weather service forecaster Jim Mathews described the snowfall as unusual for this time of year.
“It’s usually above 5,000 feet,” he said. “This will be a colder system with air mass from the Gulf of Alaska.”
The snow is a small but welcome respite amid a historic drought that has gripped the state for several years and prompted Gov. Jerry Brown this week to order the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, imposing 25 percent cuts.
Forecaster Mathews said the snow cover could delay fire season for a few weeks, but noted that the precipitation wouldn’t have an effect on drought conditions. The state’s snow pack was measured at only 5 percent of normal last week, the lowest ever at the beginning of April.
“It’s too little,” Matthews said of the expected new powder. “But when you have some snow coverage, it’s certainly a blessing in my book.”
Here’s the seven-day forecast:
Sunday: Showers likely, mainly after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 62. South southeast wind 8 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Sunday night: A 30 percent chance of showers before 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. East southeast wind 6 to 13 mph becoming south southwest in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.
Monday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 64. South wind 5 to 13 mph.
Monday night: Rain likely, mainly after 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 48. South wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Tuesday: Showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 11 a.m. Some of the storms could produce small hail. High near 60. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent.
Tuesday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce small hail. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 44. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.
Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 67.
Wednesday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 45.
Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 73.
Thursday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 48.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 77.
Friday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 48.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 78.
Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.