Weather forecasters weren’t kidding; Mammoth is on its way to 10 feet of snow, and then some. (Photo: Kirkner)
UPDATED 1 p.m., Dec. 21: According to the Town of Mammoth Lakes’ website, a Winter Advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22. The Winter Storm Watch is no longer in effect. Snow will begin near the Sierra crest late this evening with up to a foot of snow forecast through Wednesday. The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is OPEN. Track your flight online at www.flightaware.com.
UPDATED 4:30 p.m., Dec. 20: The Winter Storm Warning has been extended until 10 p.m. this evening. Periods of moderate to heavy snow will continue this evening. The NWS has also posted a Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday evening through Wednesday. A foot or more of snow is possible above 7,000 feet with 3-6 inches below 7,000 feet.
According to Geisel, “NWS reported recorded gusts of 164 miles per hour at the top of Mammoth Mountain on Sunday. For reference, that’s equivalent to Category 5 hurricane force winds. Category 5 is the strongest ranking for a hurricane. Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina Both had maximum sustained winds of 175 mph.”
According to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, extreme avalanche danger exists for the Mammoth Lakes area. High avalanche danger exists for all other areas in the forecast region. Avoid avalanche terrain, including areas UNDER steep slopes as well. Be careful underneath roofs with snow build up as well! For more ESAC info, visit www.esavalanche.org.
HWY 395: Chains or snow tires are required on all vehicles except 4WD’s with snow tires from 16 miles north of Bishop to the south Junction of SR158 (June Lake) – R2 Chain restrictions. Chains or snow tires are required from the south junction of SR158 (June Lake) to 8 miles south of Bridgeport.
SR 203: R3 Chain restrictions are in effect from Forest Trail to the Mammoth Mountain Inn (Main Lodge) – no exceptions. R2 Chain Restrictions are in effect in and around Mammoth Lakes.
There is a potential for significant snow accumulations and gusty winds that may create hazardous winter driving conditions over passes and in wind prone areas along HWY 395. Significant travel delays and road closures are possible.
Mammoth Yosemite Airport
The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is currently closed. All Horizon Air and United flights have been canceled for today. Track your flight online at www.flightaware.com.
UPDATED 1:30 p.m., Dec. 20: The snow keeps falling in Mammoth, so much so that the town has just been named as having the most snow of ski resorts in the world right now, according to skiinfo.com. Mammoth Mountain reports that this storm has officially broken the record of the snowiest December since MMSA started recording in 1969. The storm total at this time is 9-13.5 feet and counting.
UPDATED 7:30 a.m., Dec. 20: Mammoth Mountain is reporting 27 inches of snow in the last 24 hours and 8.5-12.5 feet total for the storm so far, with 1-2 feet still expected today. At 6 a.m. this morning the storm was only 5 inches away from being the snowiest December ever recorded since 1969, according to www.mammothmountain.com. Mammoth has also been named as the spot with the most snow in North America. The U.S. 395 is open again throughout the Sierra, but chains or snow tires are still required.
UPDATED 3:45 p.m., Dec. 19: U.S. 395 is currently closed 8 mile north of Lee Vining to Bridgeport due to whiteout conditions.
UPDATED 10:30 a.m., Dec. 19: The winter storm warning for the Sierra has been extended through Monday, Dec. 20 at 4 p.m. and the Mammoth Yosemite Airport remains closed, with all flights for Dec. 19 canceled. According to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, the current storm will put this December’s snowfall in the top 5 recorded amounts since 1969.
UPDATED 7:50 a.m., Dec. 19: A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 p.m. today and Mammoth Mountain is now reporting 30-40 inches of new snowfall in the last 24 hours, and 6-8.5 feet of snow from the snow so far. Snow continues to fall heavily in the Sierra.
A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 p.m. Sunday, December 19 above 7,500 feet. Snow is expected to continue in the Sierra through Monday with the heaviest of the storm expected tonight through Sunday with snowfall rates of 2-4 inches per hour. Overall snowfall totals of 5-10 feet are likely in the Sierra above 7,000 feet.
As of 4 p.m. on Dec. 18, Mammoth Mountain was reporting 44-60 inches in the last 24 hours with a total storm accumulation so far of 4-5.5 feet. All Mammoth Ski & Snowboard Team programs were canceled.
U.S. 395: Chains or snow tires are required from 17 miles north of Bishop to the South Junction of SR 158 (June Lake Loop).
Hwy 203: Chains are required on all vehicles except 4WD vehicles with snow tires on all 4 wheels from Junction HWY 395 to the Mammoth Mountain Inn.
There is a potential for significant snow accumulations and gusty winds that may create hazardous winter driving conditions over passes and in wind prone areas along U.S. 395. Significant travel delays and road closures are possible.
Mammoth Yosemite Airport
All Horizon Air and United flights have been canceled for Saturday, Dec. 18.
The Town advises residents and visitors to be prepared by listening to KMMT 106.5 and Sierra Wave 92.5 for any road closures or shelter openings. The Town will also post updated information on the Public Information Line: 760. 934.8054 and www.Townofmammothlakes.com. Call Caltrans at 800.427.7623 for updated road conditions and chain restrictions. In the event of any emergency, please call 911 for assistance.
In preparation for the winter storm, the Town advises residents to stock up on water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, along with special items for medical conditions. You may also consider an alternative way to heat your home; and if you have to drive, carry chains, make sure your gas tank is full, bring a charged cell phone, emergency food, water and blankets or sleeping bags and a shovel. –TOML/LAK