MENDOCINO Co., 11/24/19 — A major winter storm, the first of the season, is forecasted to drench California this week, just in time to make Thanksgiving travels all the more difficult, especially if you have to cross the mountain pass on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. The storm is expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon or evening, and will bring significant rain to lower elevations (potentially putting an end of fire seasons) while dumping up to a couple feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada, and even a few inches of snow in the hills around Willits, Covelo, and Laytonville.
In contrast to much of the country where it rains year-round, in California the “water year” begins on October 1, meaning that annual rain fall totals are tabulated from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the next year, so that they encompass the whole rainy season.
And this autumn has been seen record-breaking dryness around the state, as well as unusually warm daytime temperatures — making this fall one of the warmest and driest in recorded history for various parts of the state. But, something resembling a rainy season is anticipated to return this week, according to the National Weather Service, bringing possible rain and snow storms to mountain passes around the state.
On Sunday and Monday we’ll continue to have warm daytime temps, with some gusty winds, and very dry conditions — this won’t quite rise to the level of another red flag warning, but everyone is encouraged to continue to practice fire safety. However, depending on the extent of the storm, there may be enough precipitation on this way this week to substantial reduce the risk of fire danger moving forward, so this might be the storm that finally ends the seemingly interminable 2019 fire season.
Beginning Tuesday afternoon around the state, drivers are encouraged to keep an eye on the forecast and prepare for wintry impacts to roads, including strong winds, rain, snow, small hail, and possible chain requirements. According to the NWS’s forecast as of Sunday, the winter storms are forecasted to begin moving on shore on Tuesday afternoon, and continue through through Wednesday evening, often some of the busiest travel days of the year. Snow is predicted to reach elevations of 2,500 – 3,000 feet Tuesday afternoon, then dropping to 1,500 feet and possibly below on Tuesday evening, which may result in chains being required on some mountain roads.
These conditions may result in slick roads, ponding on the roads, icy conditions, and rock slides, so take caution — here’s a travel advisory provided by NWS. Storms are also predicted to hit the Sierra Nevadas with significant potential snow accumulation of up to two to three feet beginning Tuesday morning through Thursday.
In Southern California, possible thunderstorms, rain and flooding in burn areas, are in the forecast, and even snow on the Tejon Pass on Interstate 5 (usually referred to as “the Grapevine”). This weather is expected to begin Tuesday So if you’re heading to SoCal for Thanksgiving (as at least one Mendo Voice reporter is) make sure to check on road reports and weather reports before heading out.
Here’s the travel advisory from NWS Eureka:
Thanksgiving week is here and many people will be traveling across the country. In northwest California the weather will make travel more challenging and hazardous starting Tuesday afternoon. Strong winds, rain and mountain snow are expected Tuesday afternoon and evening as an area of low pressure moves onshore. Snow levels will continue to fall Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to around 1,500 feet as showers continue across the area. At this time small hail is also likely with the highest threat along the coast. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your trip. First, check the forecast at weather.gov and look for forecast locations along your travel route. Check the road conditions before you head out and make sure you have a car safety kit and/or tire chains ready if you plan on traveling through an area with snow.
The storm may also impact swells and marine safety, and there are a number of small craft advisories in effect for portions of the Northern California coast over the coming week, as there may be high swells due to the incoming storm.
Here’s more info from the NWS:
Here’s the winter storm watch details from NWS, issued early Sunday morning.
URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE National Weather Service Eureka CA 409 AM PST Sun Nov 24 2019 …SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS TO HOLIDAY TRAVEL WILL BE POSSIBLE TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY DUE TO WINTER WEATHER… .
A potentially significant winter storm may bring heavy mountain snow, strong winds, and low elevation small hail Tuesday and Wednesday. While the strength of the storm is still uncertain, confidence is increasing that winter weather may cause significant impacts to holiday travel during early to middle portions of next week, particularly across interior mountain roadways above 2500 feet in elevation.
CAZ105>108-111-250015- /O.CON.KEKA.WS.A.0006.191126T1800Z-191127T2200Z/ Northern Humboldt Interior-Southern Humboldt Interior- Northern Trinity-Southern Trinity-Northeastern Mendocino Interior- 409 AM PST Sun Nov 24 2019 …WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON… *
WHAT…Heavy snow possible above 2500 feet. Storm total snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches possible at pass levels, with locally higher amounts on higher peaks. Strong winds are also likely. * WHERE…Humboldt Interior, Trinity and Northeastern Mendocino Counties above 2500 feet. * WHEN…From Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon. *
IMPACTS…Travel could be very difficult to impossible along interior mountain roads. The hazardous conditions could impact holiday travel, in addition to morning and evening commutes.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Snow amounts, the strength of expected winds, and timing remain relatively uncertain, but significant impacts to holiday travel are possible during this event.