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Snow in May? Sierra could get up to a foot as rare cold storm sweeps over California

Cold and dense: Here’s final snow survey of 2019, and things couldn’t be better

The Department of Water Resources recorded 47 inches of snow at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada, South Lake Tahoe, with a snow equivalent of 27.5 inches, 88 percent above average at this time of year.
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The Department of Water Resources recorded 47 inches of snow at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada, South Lake Tahoe, with a snow equivalent of 27.5 inches, 88 percent above average at this time of year.

Update: See Tuesday morning’s updated weather outlook here.

In addition to wet weather and possible record-setting cold in the Sacramento Valley and foothills later this week, the Sierra will see snow showers Thursday and into the weekend.

With temperatures dipping as low as 25, a rare mid-May snowstorm could affect the northern and central Sierra.

In a special weather statement early Monday, National Weather Service’s Reno office warns that snow levels could fall to 6,000 feet by the end of the week.

Forecasts for the mountains and foothills also show wind gusts up to 40 mph are possible by midweek, with even stronger winds expected.

Snowfall is most likely to begin Wednesday for much of the Sierra, ramping up starting Thursday.

Truckee will see high temperatures drop from 71 on Monday to 46 on Thursday, with rain giving way to snow as the nighttime low falls to 26. South Lake Tahoe will also drop to highs in the 40s, but lows will stay in the mid-30s.

Forecasts are still unsettled, but NWS as of Sunday evening predicted at least an inch of total precipitation this week throughout much of Northern California, including and south of Lake Tahoe as well as eastern El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties.

Early snow forecasts predict more than a quarter-inch of snow could accumulate near elevations of 8,000 feet between 8 p.m. Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday, with snow levels settling between 6,000 and 7,000 feet Thursday and Friday.

That could equate to anywhere between a few inches and a foot by the end of the weekend, according to NWS, with better estimates based off updated forecast models expected Tuesday and Wednesday.

The good news for travelers is that NWS reports it is “doubtful there will be any daytime accumulation” on mountain highways. However, those roadways could face some impact overnight, NWS says.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.


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