A cold snap abruptly ended a run of above-average Fresno temperatures on Wednesday and brought snow to elevations as low as 2,500 feet in the Sierra Nevada.
Meteorologist Jeff Barlow at the National Weather Service in Hanford predicted a high of 54 for Wednesday – just a few days after temperatures reached the low 80s. The average for this time of year is around 60.
The snow is a welcome sight for resorts and lodges. China Peak Mountain Resort near Huntington Lake reported 6 inches of snow as of 9 a.m., and it was still falling as of 11:30 a.m. Light snow was also hitting Huntington Lake. Shaver Lake had plenty of snow on the ground, but the snowfall stopped in the early morning.
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China Peak owner Tim Cohee said The Inn at China Peak is not open yet, but parts of the mountain will open for skiers and snowboarders from Friday through Sunday. The mid-mountain intermediate and beginner courses will be available.
The Lakeshore Resort at Huntington Lake is nearly full during the busy holiday week. It has yet to start its winter activities.
Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park received 5 inches of snow, Barlow said.
The central San Joaquin Valley also absorbed some rain overnight. Fresno received 0.34 of an inch, while Madera had a quarter of an inch. South Valley cities received around a tenth of an inch.
Barlow predicted Valley highs in the mid-to-upper-50s through the weekend. There is a slight chance of showers Friday night and Saturday.
Overnight lows are expected to be in the upper 30s, prompting the Fresno Rescue Mission to open its warming center for the first time this winter, according to mission spokeswoman Deborah Torres.
Elsewhere, the storm drenched the San Francisco Bay Area and dropped up to a foot of snow in some areas of the Sierra, particularly the upper elevations around Lake Tahoe.
A snowstorm packing 50-mph winds blew into Lake Tahoe and northern Nevada on Tuesday, slowing mountain travelers getting an early start on the Thanksgiving holiday.
The California Highway Patrol responded to multiple accidents on Interstate 80 near Donner Pass southwest of Truckee, but no serious injuries were reported Wednesday.