Rain, hail return to Sacramento Valley; avalanche reported at Mammoth Mountain

"Stay home:" Norden resident warns not to come up the Sierra during intense winter storm

As snowstorms pounded the Sierras March 1, Norden resident Tommy Lounsbury warned people not to travel up the mountains due to the scary storm.
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As snowstorms pounded the Sierras March 1, Norden resident Tommy Lounsbury warned people not to travel up the mountains due to the scary storm.

Northern California's largest storm of the season eased off this morning, but more rain and snow are coming this afternoon. Some updates on weather forecasts, road conditions and more:

5:30 p.m.: Caltrans reports that chains are required on all vehicles except four-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires on all four wheels from three miles east of Gold Run to the Donner Lake interchange. On Highway 50, chains are required for the same vehicles from nine miles east of Placerville to Riverton and Twin Bridges to Meyers in El Dorado County.

5 p.m.: Rainfall that traveled through the Sacramento Valley is heading east, meaning more snow for the Sierra, the National Weather Service reports.

3:15 p.m.: Reader Rich Gilbert captured this photo of a funnel cloud Saturday afternoon. He took the photo with a telephoto lens near Twelve Bridges Road in Lincoln:

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A funnel cloud is captured near Twelve Bridges Road in Lincoln. Rich Gilbert

2:40 p.m.: Showers and thunderstorms are moving into the Sacramento Valley, including the Sacramento, Marysville and Stockton areas, the National Weather Service reports. There have been reports of rain downpours and small hail accumulations.

2:08 p.m.:

After a mostly dry morning, the rain and snow has begun picking up again. The National Weather Service's Hannah Chandler said major roads in the Sierra Nevada can expect another 4 to 7 inches of snow, while an additional foot of snow is forecast for the higher mountain peaks.

She said the Sacramento area is seeing scattered rain showers.

1:19 p.m.:

The weather's supposed to get rough again in the Sierra Nevada, but Caltrans said it has lifted chain controls on Highway 50. Motorists are advised to drive carefully, and the National Weather Service's winter storm warning remains in effect until 10 p.m.

Chain controls remain in effect for westbound Interstate 80 from Truckee to Kingvale.

12:45 p.m.: Three people were partially buried but were able to free themselves without injury Saturday during an avalanche at Mammoth Mountain, in the Inyo National Forest of Madera and Mono counties.

About 10:15 a.m. , Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol was performing avalanche hazard mitigation work when an avalanche released on the upper part of the mountain traveling toward the High Five Express (Chair 5) area, the resort reported in a Facebook post.

The area where avalanche control work was conducted was closed for skiing at the time of the incident, officials said. Avalanche debris traveled toward the bottom of the lift and ultimately crossed into an area that was open to the public.

The three people partially buried included one Mammoth Mountain employee.

Resort officials report that they are not aware of any missing persons. If members of the public are aware of missing friends or family, they are asked to call 760-934-0611.

Mammoth will remain closed Saturday, officials said.

10:50 a.m.:

One decent-sized storm can't make up for a season of mostly dry weather. But it can help.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack climbed to 32 percent of normal as of late Friday, according to the Department of Water Resources. It had been at 23 percent before the storm began late Wednesday.

DWR's 8-station rain gauge index, which measures a mix of rain and snow in the upper Sacramento Valley, had jumped to 65 percent of normal, up from 57 percent.

10:41 a.m.:

Another avalanche warning has been issued in the Sierra Nevada, this one on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe's north shore.

Washoe County officials issued the alert for the Crystal Bay area of the north shore. The heavy snow "may produce avalanches that could affect homes and facilities in the Crystal Bay/Third Creek areas. No avalanche danger currently exists, however, it may be only a matter of 4 to 6 hours before it does," the county said.

9:48 a.m.:

The snow fall totals in the Sierra Nevada are nothing if not impressive.

The National Weather Service said Kirkwood ski resort has received 75 inches of snow since the storm began late Wednesday. Soda Springs has received 59 inches and Kingvale has gotten 51 inches. Sugar Bowl has gotten 49 inches.

9:11 a.m.:

Squaw Valley and its sister resort, Alpine Valley, issued an avalanche warning today, one day after the body of a snowboarder from Rocklin was found in the snow on the Squaw property.

Squaw-Alpine warned on Twitter of "high to extreme" avalanche risks at Alpine, which received a record overnight snowfall of 29 inches. Many of the lifts at Alpine are on hold, while upper mountain lifts at Squaw are closed today.

9:08 a.m.:

Chain controls remain in effect this morning on Interstate 80 and Highway 50 even though the weather has cleared up. Motorists on I-80 must have four-wheel drive or chains between the Nevada border and the Gold Run-Colfax area. On Highway 50, controls are in place between Meyers and a spot four miles east of Placerville.

9:03 a.m.:

Mike Kochasic, of the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said parts of the Sacramento Valley could see showers and thunderstorms this afternoon, with the possibility of a minor hailstorm.

The Sierra Nevada is relatively quiet this morning, but that will change before too long.

"For the most part it's clear, partly cloudy, but there's another wave coming in," Kochasic said.

He said upper elevations can expect another foot of snow today, while foothills communities will get about 2 inches.

He said the mountains could get additional light snow Sunday morning as the storm peters out.

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