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Powerful Blizzard Raises California Snowpack to 104% of Normal
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 2 months ago on
March 4, 2024

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Blizzard drops 10 feet of snow at Sugar Bowl ski resort in Northern California.

Statewide snow water equivalent is 104% of normal through Monday.

There’s a chance of showers in Fresno on Tuesday night and Wednesday.


Thanks to the powerful weekend storm, state water managers can uncork the champagne.

Monday’s California Cooperative Snow Surveys report put the snow water equivalent statewide at 104% of normal for the date and 94% of the April 1 average.

And, while the news wasn’t as robust for the Southern Sierra, the snow water equivalent there should still translate into good news for San Joaquin Valley communities and farms this summer.

At the beginning of January, the state snowpack was just 28% of normal to date.

March 4, 2024, Snow Water EquivalentsThe Valley Week Ahead Forecast

Fresno received .74 inches of rain last week — not as much as was in the forecast but enough to boost the water season total to 7 inches.

Among Valley communities, Merced is getting the most rain and has nearly matched its “normal” season average of 11.80 inches.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service in Hanford calls for mostly sunny skies today through Tuesday afternoon. There’s a slight chance of showers Tuesday night followed by a 30% chance of rain Wednesday dropping to 20% Wednesday night.

Sunny skies with highs in the low and mid-60s are expected Thursday and Friday.

The Climate Prediction Center says that Central Valley precipitation will be near normal from March 11 through March 17.

Climate Prediction Center March 11-17

Blizzard Snarls Traffic, Fells Power Lines, Dumps 10 Feet of Snow

Sugar Bowl, a ski resort nestled 7,000 feet up among the northern Sierra peaks, recorded the highest amounts of snow (10 feet) from the storm that began barreling into the region Thursday and was finally dissipating on Monday.

The weekend blizzard caused traffic backups and closures on Interstate 80 and other roadways and shut down ski resorts from the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to Sugar Bowl with the warning covering a 300-mile stretch of the mountains. It also left thousands of homes and businesses without power as fierce winds lashed the Sierra.

A long stretch of I-80 from west of Lake Tahoe over Donner Summit to the Nevada state line reopened to all but big rigs late Monday morning, but chains or snow tires were required, the California Highway Patrol’s Truckee office said.

The mountain pass, which can be perilous in snow, is named for the infamous Donner Party, a group of pioneers who resorted to cannibalism after getting trapped there in the winter of 1846-1847.

(Associated Press contributed to this story.)

 

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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