The Sierra snowpack has been boosted over the last few days.
© Mike Peron
The Sierra snowpack has been boosted over the last few days.
After a slow wet season without much precipitation, the Sierra Nevada mountain range region in California is finally starting to see some heavy snow.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said parts of the central and northern Sierra Nevada were buried under somewhere between 1-4 feet of snow since it started falling on Sunday. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are usually pummeled with "yards and yards" of snow in the winter, and this snowfall is helping that area make up for a long drought.

"There have probably been periodic blizzard conditions, but most places were below that criteria," Sosnowski said. Blizzard criteria are reached when a storm sustains winds or wind gusts of 35 mph or greater, and the visibility diminishes to less than one-quarter of a mile for three consecutive hours.

California's wet season typically lasts from October to April and accounts for 90% of the year's precipitation, but this year the wet season has been anything but wet.

"The amount of snow and rain created by this over the Sierra and over northern and central California could not have come at a better time," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

The snowpack from the mountains is crucial, as it accounts for 30 percent of California's freshwater total.

"With the snow drought during much of January and February, this is much needed," Sosnowski said.

According to Kottlowski, this kind of storm is not unusual for the area. However, it is late in the season for a storm of this magnitude.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials were forced to close I-80 between Colfax and the Nevada state line due to abundant snow amounts.

According to CHP Truckee, I-80 opened and closed several times throughout the day on Sunday due to various weather conditions, such as heavy snow and low visibility.

Kottlowski said heavy winds that were expected with the storm did not end up panning out and adding to the travel woes.

"This is in part due to the fact that the upper-level storm system causing this snowfall stayed off the central coast of [California]," Kottlowski said.

Winds could pick up on Tuesday but, according to Kottlowski, that will likely happen after the snow has, for the most part, tapered off. He said probably between 3 to 6 inches of additional snowfall is still on the way on Tuesday.

Another storm is headed toward the region by this weekend and next week, Kottlowski said.
"It may help some places get back on track, or at least get to within a few feet of seasonal average," Sosnowski said.