It’s the week before Christmas and some of you have been dreaming of a white Christmas, right?
Looking back a couple of weeks, I mentioned that a white Christmas might be a possibility in an article I wrote. I can now say with a lot more certainty that you might get your wish. However, in my truest “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” fashion, please read on for what, when, and how this is going to play out. For those of you traveling you’re going to want to pay especially close attention.
What Can We Expect?
As I’m writing this I can see clouds starting to move into the area and that’s how it starts. According to the National Weather Services Hanford office “A series of storm systems will bring more rain and mountain snow to central California this week into early next week. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for the Sierra Nevada from late Tuesday night through Sunday.” Other weather experts are predicting fluctuating snow and rain levels. This includes heavy mountain snow, local flash flooding, dense fog, possible debris flows in burn scars and lots of travel delays. Because I’ve lived up here for about 30 years I think we can safely add power outages to this list as well.
Timing is Everything
Tuesday through Sunday is what we’re looking at right now which happens to be the week leading up to Christmas Day on Saturday. Starting out on Tuesday, our communities will begin to see rain in the foothills and snow in the mountains. Snow levels should be in the 5000 to 7000 feet elevation range for Tuesday night and on into Wednesday, then heading into Thursday that snow level will begin to lower.
By Friday we could see the snow levels dropping into the 3000 feet elevation range. Saturday — Christmas Day — the snow is expected to continue in that same elevation range. That’s right, for those of you dreaming of a white Christmas you’ll be happy to hear you’ll probably be seeing your dreams come true. Also I need to mention that throughout this storm the higher elevations could see snow accumulations of up to eight feet and winds up to 65 mph are included.
Over the River and Through the Woods
This holiday season, AAA is predicting “More than 109 million people — an almost 34% increase from 2020 — will travel 50 miles or more as they hit the road, board airplanes or take other transportation out of town between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.”
AAA has some really good information for all types of travel for this week here, including if you’re planning on flying. For the rest of this article I’m going to focus on traveling by car and the issues you could face this week. I’ve already written articles with good information on how to deal with power outages and flooding.
One hundred million or more Americans are expected to be on the roads this week and I’m sure that includes a lot of you or your families and friends. Goodness, the stories I could tell you about driving the roads in our areas over the last thirty something years! Especially when my ex-husband and I used to commute into Yosemite National Park from Mariposa for most of the five years I worked there. We experienced every kind of weather and disaster imaginable! Every season was different and that’s when I learned that we had to be prepared for anything.
Here’s some tips for those of you who are going to be traveling by car this week.
- Check conditions before you go. CalTrans has a great website for checking road conditions, traffic hazards and accidents, and chain restrictions. For local roads, we here at Sierra News Online post the same on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good running order. Pay attention to things like the condition of your tires, windshield wipers and heater/defroster. Check your anti-freeze, oil, and transmission fluids too. Windshield wiper fluid can be a big help on snowy, dirty roads.
- Have an emergency kit that includes food, water, first aid kit, cellular device chargers, blankets, flashlights and batteries. Anything you might need if you were to get stuck in your vehicle for a prolonged period of time.
- Most importantly be prepared for delays! Flexibility is key this week and patience and good will towards your fellow travelers will be a necessity.
In terms of weather, it’s going to be one of those weeks where conditions change rapidly, but also the type of weather we have been waiting for all winter. From all of us here at Sierra News Online we sincerely wish you a safe and happy Holiday Season!