Good ski weather forecast for Sierra; Sacramento area contends with flooding

Sierra Nevada residents were digging out after days of snow Thursday and anticipating fair weather for the long weekend, while emergency personnel in south Sacramento County contended with flooding and evacuations.

Areas of Point Pleasant in the south Sacramento region experienced major flooding and closed roads Thursday.

Mike McLaughlin, deputy chief of operations for the Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department, advised residents to stay clear of many main roads.

“Water in some of these areas is 3- to 4-feet deep,” he said. Franklin Road south of Point Pleasant Road, Lambert Road, and Point Pleasant Road west of Franklin Boulevard were closed.

McLaughlin said flooding in the south county was caused by a breach of the levee early Wednesday off Grizzly Slough that, combined with the flow of the Cosumnes River, created a bottleneck as the water built up in the lower corner of Sacramento County.

The Fire Department reported it had rescued 14 people from flooding since 4 a.m. Thursday. No injuries were reported.

Fire Chief Tracey Hansen said fire crews were fanned out across the west Elk Grove area Thursday afternoon monitoring water levels. Areas of concern, she said, were in the Twin Cities Road, Lambert Road, Franklin Boulevard and Snodgrass Slough areas.

The Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services issued an alert at midafternoon that the Lost Slough levee, west of Interstate 5 near the Cosumnes River Preserve, might fail. Agencies were advised to prepare to help people and livestock move to higher ground.

Meanwhile, most of the region was beginning to dry out as the remnants of a major storm system moved through the area. Floodwaters from Dry Creek in Rio Linda had begun to recede, and Placer County officials said cleanup was proceeding on flooded and damaged roadways in the county’s western regions.

Northern California storms taper – but impact lingers

Sacramento area weather

In the Sierra, Dave Wood, the California Department of Transportation’s maintenance-area superintendent for the Donner Pass-Sutter/Sierra Region, said he expected chain controls on Interstate 80 to be lifted Thursday night. Then, he said, traffic and sunshine forecast for Friday would dry the roadway in time for weekend traffic.

“We have about 90 percent of the width back,” Wood said, explaining that snow blowers had been used to remove plowed snow from lanes and shoulders of the highway.

He urged people planning to travel to the mountains to consult Caltrans’ QuickMap website,, before leaving home. The site, which can be accessed on a computer or cellphone, provides updates on road conditions and areas with chain controls.

“If people would check that before they head up, I would have 90 percent less complaints,” Wood said.

Chris Gray-Garcia, a Placer County spokesman, said utility companies in the Lake Tahoe area were still working Thursday to restore power following extensive storm-caused outages. The Tahoe City Public Utility District Office, 221 Fair Drive, in Tahoe City, was scheduled to open as an emergency overnight shelter Thursday evening.

In El Dorado County, the city of South Lake Tahoe reported that snow removal crews had worked around the clock to clear snow on city roads.

Weather over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend should be favorable for outdoor activities in the mountains and the Sacramento area.

“In the Sierra, it should be a good time for people to go out and take advantage of the deep, fresh snowpack,” said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Sugar Bowl Resort reported Thursday that it had received 103 inches of snow from the storm and snow was still falling. As of Thursday, the resort had received 15.9 feet of snow this month, according to a news release.

The favorable weather is expected to bring a welcome influx of visitors to ski areas, but Gray-Garcia stressed that mountain communities are still recovering from the storm. He advised people coming for the weekend, particularly those staying in rented accommodations, to find out whether they have power. He also advised visitors to be prepared for traffic delays and intermittent road closures.

Rain was tapering off in the Sacramento area late Thursday afternoon. As of 5 p.m., Shoemaker said downtown Sacramento had received 0.12 inches for the the day, bringing the total for the season to 16.9 inches, 193 percent of normal. Late night and early morning fog likely will replace the rain over the weekend, he said, but the Sacramento area should remain relatively dry.

Dry conditions are predicted for Friday through Monday. The next chance for major rain and snowfall is midweek when another atmospheric river is predicted to take aim at California. The next chance of rain is late Tuesday into Wednesday, Shoemaker said.

“Next week’s system is expected to be a warm one,” he said, adding that it could deliver a significant amount of rain and melt some of the Sierra snow.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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