Storm dumps snow on local mountains

Snow fell on mountains roads on Friday. It was a welcome storm as California continues on one of the driest winters on record.
February 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Snow started falling on mountain roads Friday afternoon. It's a welcome storm as California continues on one of the driest winters on record.

Andy McMillan with the Big Creek Hydroelectric project, owned and operated by Southern California Edison, says local precipitation levels are less than 30 percent of where they should for the year. The snow pack is about 20 percent of normal.

McMillan predicts the storm will help raise those numbers by 2 or 3 percent. It will help but it's not enough to take California out of the drought.

"If we don't have enough water, we don't produce as much electricity," McMillan said in regards to the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project. "What that means for the local area is instead of using local energy, it has to be imported."

He says that could be a possibility by the summer.

The water at Huntington Lake could also be a telling sign of the how bad the drought is. It is low and it could stay that way through the summer.

"Some of the lakes will not be full," he said. "But we're going to try and manage to maintain the minimum level."

The mountains saw a combination of rain and snow on Friday. It began as rain in the late morning, and then the snow started to fall heavily by the late afternoon.

Lightning from the storm temporarily shut down some slopes at the China Peak Mountain Resort, but owner Tim Cohee was more excited about seeing the snow.

"We're still in the base-building business," he said. "It's unusual to be in the base building business in March, but we are. In that case, the wet snow is perfect."

Snow also fell on the higher elevations most of Friday, which should help increase the local snow pack.

"We'd rather see runoff from the snow in small measures, rather than rain all at once," McMillan said.

But he added that it would likely take at least five more similar storms to return precipitation levels back to normal.


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