Snow in the forecast for the Sierra

The view up-canyon from Three Rivers when the clouds parted mid-day on Wednesday. More storminess is on the way for the weekend.


MAY 17, 2019— With the Wednesday-Thursday (May 15-16) storm, snow levels dropped to about 5,000 feet. The Generals Highway between-the-parks section is closed. An inch of rain was received at the 1,000-feet elevation in Three Rivers. There’s more on the way. Rain is expected through the weekend.

The north boundary of Sequoia National Park at 6,800 feet elevation. This section of highway will be closed beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, due to a forecast of mountain snow.

MAY 15, 2019— In preparation for a weather forecast that is calling for several inches of mountain snow, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will close the between-the-parks section of the Generals Highway on Wednesday, May 15, at 6 p.m. The closure will include the 15-mile section of highway that connects Sequoia with Kings Canyon National Park between the Red Fir gate (near the Wuksachi intersection) and the Woodward gate (near Montecito-Sequoia Lodge).

The park is advising travelers to be prepared for winter driving conditions during the next several days and until the storm system passes. Tire chains will be required to be in vehicles entering Sequoia or Kings Canyon (for rent at several locations in Three Rivers).

Additional road closures may occur, especially on roads that aren’t on the plowing rotation, such as Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road. The Generals Highway could close if snow accumulates faster than the snow plows can clear it.

Rain, snow, below-normal temperatures

According to the National Weather Service at Hanford, a winter storm warning will go into effect at midnight Wednesday, May 15, and continue until Friday, May 17, at 6 a.m. NWS is reporting that the snow level will start out at 8,000 feet (perhaps leaving a foot or more of snow) before dropping to about 5,000 feet Thursday afternoon, with the heaviest snow expected Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

This begins a pattern of unsettled weather that will continue through the next 10 or 12 days throughout California. This precipitation will be beneficial in delaying the start of fire season for a few weeks, locally adding some moisture to the landscape that has begun to dry.

Temperatures for the next 10 days or so will be well below the May averages, both in Three Rivers and the nearby mountains. So far this year, there hasn’t been a heatwave, something that can typically happen in late April or May. This soaking of the soil will also reduce any looming heatwaves that were planning to descend on the area.

Besides mountain snow and foothills rains, there is also the possibility for some thunderstorms and wind as the storms arrive. 

For updated road conditions, call Sequoia-Kings Canyon automated park information line at 559-565-3341, press 1, then press 1 again.

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