Rain and thunderstorms likely across the Bay Area; more powder on tap for the Sierra
A storm system sweeping across Northern California is expected to bring more scattered showers — even a few thunderstorms — to the Bay Area on Sunday, along with more than a foot of fresh powder to the Sierra Nevada.
Pea-sized hail fell over parts of the Peninsula on Sunday morning, while lightning was reported over San Francisco and the South Bay as a low-pressure system moved ashore from the Pacific Ocean, according to the National Weather Service. To the west, chain controls were in effect over Interstate 80 after roughly a foot of snow fell over several Sierra ski resorts.
The spate of unsettled weather marked a final chance for precipitation before sunny skies and slightly warmer temperatures return to the Bay Area and Northern California on Monday and continue for most of the rest of the week.
“It will just continue to take the edge off what remaining drought conditions there are,” said Rick Canepa, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “It’s been a healthy season so far.”
As of 8 a.m. Sunday, low-lying, urban parts of the Bay Area received a quarter to a third of an inch of rain over the previous 24 hours, according to rain gauges maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. San Jose received .15 inches of rain in that time span, while downtown Oakland received .35 inches of rain. Downtown San Francisco received .37 inches of precipitation.
Farther inland, much of Contra Costa County received between .53 and 1.03 inches of rain in that span. Mt. Diablo received 2.51 inches of rain — the highest recorded total in the Bay Area.
To the south, the Santa Cruz Mountains received 1.07 to 2.48 inches of rain over the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. Sunday.
Over the Sierra, snow continued to make travel hazardous for skiers hoping to take advantage of all the fresh powder. Homewood Mountain Resort measured 14 inches of new snow from Saturday morning through Sunday Morning. Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe received 12 inches, while both Northstar and Palisades Tahoe measured 10 inches of fresh powder, according to the National Weather Service.
All of that new snow prompted the Sierra Avalanche Center to issue a backcountry avalanche warning through 7 a.m. Monday for the central Sierra Nevada region, including the Lake Tahoe area. Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol instituted chain controls over several highways north of Lake Tahoe, including over Donner Pass.
“I probably would head up there — I’d wait until tomorrow to start skiing,” said Robert Baruffaldi, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “If anyone’s heading up there, just be prepared to put on chains and expect slow travel.”
The wintry weather is expected to add to already impressive snowpack totals across the Sierra. As of Friday, California’s statewide snowpack stood at slightly more than double its average for this time of year — having already exceeded the amount of snow it normally gets by April 1. The northern Sierra region is at 167% of its average snowpack total for this time of year.
“We’re looking really good, as far as snowpack this time of year,” Baruffaldi said. “And we’ve still got a ways to go, but at least we got a good chunk in the bucket right now.”