Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

California Digs Out From Barrage of Snow Before the Next Storm

Snow has engulfed mountainous regions of California in the past week, shutting down long stretches of roadways, closing Yosemite National Park and burying many communities.

The extreme weather forced Yosemite to close on Saturday, initially for a few days and now indefinitely. Structures in the park and rangers’ homes remain encased in deep snow, and power is intermittent, Scott Gediman, a park ranger and spokesman, said.

Higher-elevation areas of the park have recently recorded as much as 15 feet of snow, while 40 inches accumulated on Tuesday alone in Yosemite Valley, breaking a record of 36 inches set in 1969, Gediman said.

Farther north, a critical stretch of Interstate 80 that cuts across northern Sierra Nevada from Applegate to the Nevada border was closed for days because of the snow and poor visibility before it partly reopened Wednesday afternoon.

Some parts of California are facing particularly dangerous conditions. In the San Bernardino Mountains, communities have been deluged with seven feet of snow and emergency crews have been shuttling food and medicine to stranded residents.

In Olympic Valley, northwest of Tahoe City, an avalanche crashed into a three-story apartment building Tuesday evening, though all occupants safely evacuated, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

Brandon Schwartz, the lead avalanche forecaster at the Sierra Avalanche Center, said that instability — the greatest factor — peaked late Tuesday and has since subsided. An additional storm is expected to bring at least a foot of snow to the valley floor of the Lake Tahoe area this weekend, Schwartz added.

More on California

California’s major ski resorts benefited from the recent storms, at least once the snowfall took a break. Numerous spots shut down on Tuesday, including Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows. Palisades has seen 12 feet of snow in the past week and more than 500 inches of snow this season, Patrick Lacey, a public relations manager, said.

“This has definitely been the biggest storm so far of the season,” he said. “In the High Sierra, it comes all at once. It’s pretty insane to see this amount of snow.”

At Donner Pass, the U.C. Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab has recorded 141.9 inches in the past seven days and 531 inches, or a little more than 44 feet, so far this season. And while the recent snowfall has been significant, it pales in comparison to the station’s all-time snowiest season, 1951-52, during which it recorded more than 67 feet of snow, the lead scientist and manager Andrew Schwartz said.

Still, conditions in the area remain treacherous, with many back roads buried under five to seven feet of snow, said Schwartz, who lives in Soda Springs.

“It really comes down to being able to hunker down and get through it because there’s absolutely no way that anybody can travel right now with conditions like these,” he said.

The recent heavy snowfall will also help ameliorate the state’s short-term drought conditions, Schwartz said. But California will need more than one season of exceptional snowfall to offset its drought.

“Though this has been an incredible year,” he said, “we still probably need another one to two years of above-average conditions to really get us out of the long-term drought as well.”

The rest of the news

Sirhan Sirhan: A state panel denied parole to Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, reversing course after a 2021 recommendation that he be released from prison.

Newsom’s polling: Gov. Gavin Newsom is California’s most popular high-profile politician, but voters lack confidence in the ability of the governor and the Legislature to handle the state’s estimated $22.5 billion deficit, The Los Angeles Times reports.

I.R.S.: The Internal Revenue Service has extended the 2022 federal tax return and payment deadline to Oct. 16 for most people in California, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Policing: The largest police union in Los Angeles is proposing that officers stop responding to certain lower-level crimes and mental health episodes to focus more on handling violent crimes, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Oil spill settlement: The shipping companies responsible for a 2021 oil spill off the coast of Southern California will pay nearly $97 million to settle a lawsuit, The Associated Press reports.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Hospital challenges: Hospitals in the Fresno area are bracing for setbacks after California officially ended its Covid-19 declaration of emergency, The Fresno Bee reports.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Unpaid wages: The California Labor Commission is suing the owners of the Beacon Grand hotel in San Francisco over $730,000 in unpaid wages, The SFist reports.

What we’re eating

Slow cooker spinach-artichoke chicken stew.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Marianne Lonsdale, who recommends exploring the dozens of East Bay Regional Parks:

“My husband and I live in Oakland, and during the pandemic we discovered that day trips within the East Bay Regional Park District were a wonderful quick getaway. I’ve hiked in the Oakland parks for many years and consider them jewels — Lake Temescal, Sibley and Redwood Regional Park, to name just a few — and never cease to be surprised that these parks exist so close to an urban center. During the pandemic, I expanded my day trips to other locations in the Park District.

The Park District has 73 parks in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties that line the San Francisco Bay and then stretch inland to rolling hills. Some are a five-minute drive from my home, and most are not more than 30 minutes away. The Park District preserves and protects 125,000 acres of open space.

We loved taking our aging dog in his stroller, and the Park District made this easy by providing a brochure — one each for the southern and northern regions — with information on over 30 hikes that are one to three miles long and can accommodate strollers and wheelchairs.

One day we packed our dog and his stroller in the car and headed to Quarry Lakes in Fremont. Easy flat trails looped around Horseshoe and Rainbow lakes. We awed at the variety of birds, spotting pelicans, mud ducks, hummingbirds, cormorants and hawks. My heart soared watching a pelican fly across the lake and then skim the water to land. Our dog leaned forward in his stroller, maybe missing the old days of chasing ducks.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

And before you go, some good news

By 16, Fredo Olan “ran into trouble and made mistakes kids make” growing up in Lancaster, Pa., he recalled. By 24, he was living with his mother and cycling in and out of prison.

Always adept with the clippers, he saw a commercial on television for a beauty school and decided to give it a try. Years later, it worked out better than he might have imagined. He’s now a father of three and living with his wife in Visalia, where he owns East to West Hair Artistry.

Last September, Olan expanded his operations to include an East to West Barber Academy. His aim is not only to train other aspiring barbers but also to give struggling young adults an opportunity to find their way in life — just as he did. “If I could help these people out, and have these students make better choices, it can benefit them and their families,” he said. “And I’m all for it. That’s what I want to do.”

Since opening, the academy has enrolled 38 students. Read more in the Visalia Times Delta.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Soumya Karlamangla, Briana Scalia and Isabella Grullón Paz contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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