LOW SNOW LEVELS EXPECTED TONIGHT AND TOMORROW

As cleanup from the recent devastating storm continues to commence, a new storm system is taking aim on the Palm Springs area tonight and Thursday. This storm is not expected to create extreme rainfall amounts, but it will be memorable in that it may be the coldest storm of the season thus far. We will likely see a slow warm up into next week (although that is somewhat questionable), with more storms possible on the horizon after March 1st. More on that shortly.

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As of late Wednesday afternoon, the next storm is seen developing over Southern Oregon (source: NOAA). It is expected to move south to over Southern Nevada by Thursday afternoon.

LOW SNOW LEVELS AND POSSIBLE ROAD CLOSURES

This storm is likely to bring snow to low elevations. Here is the best guess at this point over the next 2 days:

  • Wednesday Night: 3,500 feet, likely dropping to 2,500 - 3,000 feet by morning

  • Thursday: likely around 2,500 feet, locally lower in the morning (most widespread)

  • Thursday Night: likely 2,000 - 2,500 feet (less widespread)

Small fluctuations in the snow level could have dramatic effects on nearby roadways. Here is a list of roadways potentially impacted by snowfall the next 2 days:

Highways in red could potentially experience snowfall late tonight through Thursday night.

Highways in red could potentially experience snowfall late tonight through Thursday night.

Highway 74 and 243 in the Garner Valley and Idyllwild area are most likely to see heavy snowfall. Highway 62 through the Yucca Valley area is also likely to see a dusting, with perhaps a few inches likely. Even I-10 near Banning and Yucaipa could possibly see a light dusting. If the snow level drops slightly more than expected, it’s possible more snow could fall. Be prepared for major travel disruption if this occurs.

Further away, I-15 south and north of Las Vegas is expected to receive at least 1-2 inches of snow, perhaps even more, sometime between Thursday morning and Friday morning. This could greatly impact travel along the interstate. Also, I-40 from near Kingman to Flagstaff is expecting 6-8 inches near Kingman, and over a foot near Flagstaff.

Here is the latest predictions for precipitation amounts in various areas. Keep in mind, these are estimates. Due to the convective nature of this storm, some areas will likely receive lesser amounts, and others may see higher totals.

  • Palm Springs areas: 0.1 - 0.4 inch rain, perhaps more in scatted thunderstorms and closest to the mountains

  • Morongo Valley: 0.25 - 0.5 inch of rain (possibly mixed with snow in foothills and eastern portion)

  • Yucca Valley: 0.25 - 0.4 inch of rain - likely switching to snow, with trace - 4 inches possible, highest toward the southern foothills and toward the top of the Morongo Grade

  • Joshua Tree: 0.1 - 0.4 inch of rain, possibly switching to snow with trace - 2 inches of snow possible in town, and perhaps mostly snow in the national park, with 2-6 inches possible at higher eleveations

  • Pioneertown: 0.25 - 0.4 inch of rain, with a switch to snow likely (2-5 inches possible)

  • Landers/Lucerne Valley: 0.1 inch of rain, with a switch to a few snowflakes possible in higher areas, mostly toward Lucerne Valley

  • Big Bear: All snow, 6-12 inches possible, with 20 inches or more at ski resorts possible

  • Idyllwild: All snow, 6-15+ inches possible

  • Julian: 8-14 inches of snow possible

Best thing to remember for this storm is that snow may fall in areas it doesn’t fall very often. A scattered thunderstorm could also briefly allow hail or graupel to fall at lower elevations, mostly Thursday afternoon and evening. Intense, widespread flooding rains are not expected, even if a scattered storm creates brief heavy rainfall in a specific area.

BRIEF WARMING POSSIBLE NEXT WEEK?

Yes! For those that want to shed a few layers, we may actually approach or even exceed 70 degrees next week! However, the computer models are all over the place about just how warm it may get, so it’s unclear if 68 is the highest we get, or if we may be graced with high temps in the mid 70s. I’m certainly ready for some 70s again!

STORMS LURK ON THE HORIZON THOUGH….

Long range computer models show a shift in the weather pattern sometime close to or after March 1. Instead of storms diving down from the north and northwest, like what is expected tomorrow, the storm track is showing indications of becoming more zonal, allowing a more west to east trajectory. This type of pattern usually allows snow levels to be somewhere around 6,000 feet. It also will allow storms to pick up greater moisture from the subtropics, allowing for heavier rainfall totals. Some indications show California could be hit by several more “atmospheric river” events like the one that brought heavy rain several days ago. It is too early to predict exactly what will come of this next weather change, but it is HIGHLY SUGGESTED to be sure you take advantage of the fine weather this upcoming weekend to clear out any drains and yards that need them after the recent storms.

RAINFALL AND TEMP STATS - Palm Springs Airport

Rainfall since October 1 (start of annual season): 7.21 inches (normal is 3.50). We are 3.71 inches above normal.

Rainfall for February: 4.25 inches (normal is 0.65 inches). We are 3.60 above normal for the month.

Normal high and low: 73/49. Yesterday, the high/low was 60/39.

(Source: National Weather Service)

It isn’t likely Palm Springs will see any snowfall the next 2 days, but the nearby mountains will get another impressive dump! Enjoy the sights, and use caution if you are traveling in the snow!