Nearly Foot of Snow Expected Atop Sierra, Icy Mountain Roads

An unseasonably cold spring storm pushed south through California and Nevada on Thursday, bringing a belated touch of a winter that never really was to the drought-stricken states.

Showers fell here and there, and gusty winds rose in the San Joaquin Valley and deserts, while snow fell high in the Sierra Nevada, where peaks that normally store a vast water supply have largely been free of snowpack after another dry year.

Yosemite National Park received snow at high elevations, and the popular Tioga and Glacier Point roads were temporarily closed due to the conditions, the Park Service said.

Glacier Point Road, leading to spectacular views, had re-opened from its usual winter closure March 28 because of a lack of snow. That was the earliest opening in at least 20 years. It sometimes remains closed until late May.

The Sierra crest above 7,000 feet was expected to see accumulations of 4 to 8 inches, with up to 12 inches in some areas, the National Weather Service's Reno office said.

Chains or snow tires were required on some highways. Forecasters said travel impacts would last into Friday morning.

Outside the Sierra, Southern California mountains were predicted to see snow at elevations as low as 4,500 feet overnight, but with only light accumulations, while peaks near the Las Vegas region were likely to see a dusting down to 5,000 feet.

"After a winter that was more like spring across the area, it looks like we are retrograding back a season over the next few days as a cold storm system impacts the area,'' the Las Vegas weather service office wrote.

Southern California forecasters said the cold and unstable air mass might linger in the region into Saturday with widely varied impacts, including the possibility of waterspouts in coastal waters.

Some areas would not see any rainfall, but thunderstorms could drop up to a half inch in localized areas and potentially trigger mud and debris flows in wildfire burn areas, the weather service said.

The city of Glendora, on the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles, raised its community alert to the second of four levels for residents below the scar of a January 2014 wildfire that burned five homes. The yellow alert requires residents to keep streets clear of vehicles and other obstructions. Rains late last year caused mud and debris flows from steep, bare slopes there.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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