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‘More like winter’: Updated forecasts call for up to 10 inches of Sierra snow in May

Watch: They’re working hard blowing 8 feet of snow off Tioga Road near Yosemite

Road crews are working on Tioga Road about one mile west of White Wolf in about eight feet of snow, in this video shot May 3, 2019. Too deep for the rotary plows, a dozer goes out ahead to remove some snow so the rotary plows can get to work.
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Road crews are working on Tioga Road about one mile west of White Wolf in about eight feet of snow, in this video shot May 3, 2019. Too deep for the rotary plows, a dozer goes out ahead to remove some snow so the rotary plows can get to work.

A rare, mid-May “winter” storm is blowing into Northern California from Alaska, and it’s set to drop more than a foot of snow in some parts of the Sierra by the end of this week.

By Thursday, Sacramento and most of Northern California will see moderate rain, breezy winds and a sharp drop in temperatures - potentially sharp enough to set daily records in some parts of the valley and foothills.

Updated forecasts by the National Weather Service are providing some more clarity on the precipitation outlook as the wet, cold winter-like storm creeps closer.

Here’s what to expect later this week.

‘More like winter’ in Sierra

Mountain snow is expected to begin late Wednesday through Thursday night across the Sierra.

Most of the northern and central Sierra will see between 5 to 10 inches of snow fall by Friday morning, with as much as 20 inches possible locally at higher elevations.

Snow will fall above 6,000 feet, according to the NWS. Travel delays are likely on Highway 50 and Interstate 80, where snow could result in significant reduction to visibility near the summit. Chain controls are possible.

The NWS has issued a winter storm watch, in place from the start of Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, NWS Sacramento advised: “It is going to feel more like winter by the middle to end of the week.”

What about rain in Sacramento?

NWS radar forecasts predict a half-inch to an inch of rain for Sacramento between Wednesday and Friday. That’s a boost from a previous precipitation forecast posted Sunday, which expected less than half an inch.

South Lake Tahoe will see similar rain totals, with as much as 1 inch expected. In the foothills and near Redding, as much as 2 inches could fall by the end of Friday.

Isolated thunderstorms are possible in parts of the Sacramento Valley, NWS says, but currently no thunderstorm is expected in Sacramento as of the latest forecast.

It’s gonna be how cold????

The cold storm track coming in from Alaska is knocking temperatures across Northern California anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees below average for this time of year.

Sacramento is expected to reach a high of just 64 degrees on a wet Thursday. The all-time, daily record for coldest max temperature on May 16 is 63.

Temperatures will warm slightly to back to the high 60s Friday and Saturday as chances of showers persist through the weekend.

Just weeks before this cooldown, the capital city broke a daily record when the mercury at Sacramento Executive Airport hit 89 degrees April 23.

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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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