If you have been shivering with the bitter cold the last couple of days, prepare for more of the same over the weekend. Forecasters are saying that the recent cold snap won’t be unsnapped until at least Tuesday. That’s when daytime highs here will creep back up to the upper 50s and only dip down at night into the low 40s.
That’s more like normal but the recent arctic chill was anything but normal. There is a better than average chance for snow in Three Rivers on Saturday, Dec. 7.
In the Rocky Mountains, cold temperatures in places like Bozeman, Mont., flirted with lows of 20 degrees below zero. A little farther south in St. George, Utah, and at the Grand Canyon, record lows in the single digits were the routine with snow in places that rarely, if ever, see snow.
It all started with the leading edge of a fast-moving system on Tuesday, Dec. 3, that came ashore with lots of clouds, some wind, but little moisture. The rain gauges in Three Rivers at 1,000 feet recorded .08 for that event but more significant totals are in Saturday’s stormy forecast.
As much as two feet of snow is expected for the nearby mountains at higher elevations. Low temperatures around zero have been recorded at Lodgepole for the past several nights and are expected to continue through Tuesday.
Snow levels are predicted to drop below 1,000 feet. That means park motorists could be asked to chain up at Hospital Rock or before.
A severe winter freeze is not unusual for December. In 1990, the mercury plunged for several consecutive days into the teens.
That historic freeze had a devastating effect on the Central Valley citrus economy. At least 15,000 workers were unemployed right before Christmas that year, and some of those jobs and citrus orchards have never come back.