Storm brings relief from extreme drought


The three consecutive years of drought are not over yet but it’s amazing what a couple inches of rain can do. By sundown on Friday, Oct. 31, rain was in the air as a light mist began to fall from some low moisture-laden clouds.

A couple of hours later it was pouring buckets as wave after wave of precipitation began to permeate the foothills. At the 1,000-foot elevation in the Three Rivers environs, two inches were recorded in local gauges by mid-afternoon on Saturday, Nov. 1.

The wet, wintry conditions put a damper on the monthly 1st Saturday celebration but it was difficult to find any local complaining about the weather – unless you were one of the unlucky ones who had to work in it. 

Ol’ Buckaroo Roadside Restaurant crew said the rain curtailed some of their usual Friday night business at the outdoor eatery but they were fine with the wet stuff knowing how bad the parched landscape needed the rain.

“It was crazy around here for awhile on Friday night,” said Nicky French, who with her husband, T.R., owns and operates the Sierra Drive food truck eatery. “The wind was gusting and it was raining sideways.”

Nicky said it was ironic when the storm hit because this week their new roof will be up and the outdoor heaters will keep it cozy if and when it happens to rain again.  

All that rainfall translated to a foot or more of snow in the nearby mountains above 6,000 feet. Chains were required on the Generals Highway all morning and into the afternoon on Saturday. That means some serious business for the three outlets in town that rent and sell chains. 

Clouds broke open intermittently to reveal a winter wonderland in Giant Forest and higher elevations.

“From 8 a.m. until around 2 p.m. I must have demonstrated how to put on chains to 50 carloads all headed up to Giant Forest,” said Timmy Smith, a chain installer who works at the Totem Market and Deli.   

Chain rentals translate into big bucks for the owners of the outlets. Each set rents for $40 to $80 depending on the size. At 2:30 p.m. that Saturday, a park employee called to say chains were no longer being required.

The business died almost has fast as it had started.

“We could use about 10 more days just like this one,” said one of the Totem’s cashiers. “When it rains it pours and around here it snows too.”

The official snow totals for the nearby mountains was 15 inches at Lodgepole and Grant Grove though most of the snow had melted by Thursday, Nov. 6.

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