With an embarrassment of snowpack riches already blanketing the Sierra Nevada, the National Weather Service is predicting another foot or two this weekend.
Winter weather returns to the mountains Saturday and Sunday as a cold, quick-hitting Pacific storm treks across the high country. While clear skies are expected to hold through Friday in Sacramento and in the Sierra, the storm predicted for the weekend will start bringing clouds Friday night.
The heaviest rain in Sacramento and snow in the Sierra is forecast for Saturday night into Sunday. A smart skier or snowboarder would head up to a ski resort Thursday or Friday to get some winter fun under brilliant, clear skies before snow falls.
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The weekend storm has a relatively weak moisture plume, according to weather service forecasters. The not-so-wet system will deliver much of its punch in snow, not rain, in the upper elevations.
The weather service said early snow estimates through the weekend are for a foot of snow above 5,000-feet elevation and as much as 2 feet of snow at Donner Pass.
Runoff into rivers and streams is expected to be limited since the storm will be a cold one. In addition to the snow, weather service forecasters predict windy conditions, especially Saturday night.
Snowpack levels statewide Wednesday were at 185 percent of normal. In the southern and central Sierra, snowpack levels are near the pace set in 1982-83, when California as a whole received the most snow on record.