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Sacramento set records on cold, rainy Thursday. Here’s what the next storm will bring

Check out what 7 inches of snow in May looks like at Lake Tahoe resort

It's mid-May, but the snow hasn’t stopped at Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley reported 7 inches of new snow overnight on the upper mountain, bringing that season total to 689 inches, over 57 feet. The storm also brought an inch of snow to the base area.
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It's mid-May, but the snow hasn’t stopped at Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley reported 7 inches of new snow overnight on the upper mountain, bringing that season total to 689 inches, over 57 feet. The storm also brought an inch of snow to the base area.

Downtown Sacramento shattered the daily rainfall record and broke a century-old temperature record Thursday during an atmospheric river storm system, which also brought more than a foot of mid-May snow to much of the Sierra range.

An encore awaits Northern California, as a “significant” May snowstorm could drop an additional foot or more in the Sierra between Saturday and Monday morning, while Sacramento will also see a wet, cold weekend.

Friday should be drier and warmer across the valley, foothills and mountains before the weekend system arrives.

National Weather Service says it “highly discourages” mountain travel starting Saturday.

Downtown Sacramento sets records

NWS observed 0.63 inches of rain in downtown Sacramento on Thursday, blowing past the old record of 0.38 inches by a quarter-inch. The previous mark was set May 16, 1996.

The showers were scattered, with only 0.33 inches observed at Sacramento Executive Airport, according to NWS. Between a quarter- and half-inch of rain fell throughout most of Sacramento on Thursday.

Downtown Sacramento was also among three Northern California locations that broke or tied daily records Thursday for the coldest max temperature.

The thermometer only hit 59 degrees downtown in the capital city, breaking the all-time record high of 61 set on the same day in 1898, according to NWS. The high of 59 was a full 22 degrees below the average high temperature of 81 for May 16.

Blue Canyon reached 36 degrees, tying a record set in 2011, and Marysville hit 64 degrees, 1 degree colder than the previous record set in 2017, NWS says.

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Temperatures will warm up Friday across much of Northern California, with Sacramento’s forecast showing a high of 70 and a break in the rain. But then rain and well-below-average temperatures will resume Saturday, which currently has a high of 60 in the forecast.

Sacramento could see up to about three-quarters of an inch of rain Saturday. The NWS Sacramento office tweeted that Sunday will see “unstable showery conditions,” with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Monday’s forecast is currently sunny with a high of 66.

Want more snow? You got it

Chain controls and travel delays are very likely as snow levels are expected to fall to 6,000 feet this weekend, as they did in the storm earlier this week.

The latest NWS forecast shows 6 to 16 inches of snow falling across the Sierra range. Up to 2 feet of snow is possible at higher elevations.

The main cold front is passing through Northern California from Saturday afternoon to evening. A winter storm watch is in place from 2 p.m. Saturday through 5 a.m. Monday, according to NWS.

The mid-week storm brought plenty of fresh powder to the mountains, including at the summit and near Tahoe. Much of the central and northern Sierra got between a foot and 18 inches from Wednesday through Friday morning, NWS reports.

It’s a powder day in May, and Squaw Valley has hit 700 inches of cumulative snow for the season. That's 11 inches in the last 24 hours. The 2018-19 season remains the third snowiest season on record for the Lake Tahoe ski resort.

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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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