Central Valley

Sunday's storm was last in string of several

A weekend storm stranded some mountain visitors, overwhelmed Yosemite National Park's snow plows and caused minor power outages Sunday.

The storm was the last in a string of systems that has pushed rainfall totals ahead of their seasonal averages.

Now Valley residents can expect at least a week of dry weather.

The National Weather Service is predicting dry and slightly warming conditions through next weekend, with patches of fog in the morning hours.

About 1 to 2 feet of snow fell in the Sierra Nevada during the weekend, said Michael Bingham, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford.

The snow was concentrated above elevations of 5,000 feet, he said. Yosemite Valley received about 2.1 inches of precipitation.

In the San Joaquin Valley, about half an inch of rain dropped in Merced, Madera and Visalia between Saturday and Sunday evening, said meteorologist Jim Bagnall of the weather service in Hanford. Fresno received about 0.6 of an inch of rainfall, while 0.4 of an inch of rain was recorded in Hanford, he said.

"The rain was all pretty well evenly distributed," Bagnall said.

Bingham said the series of storms is a blessing for agriculture and the ski industry.

Fresno has recorded 6.2 inches of rain this year, above the seasonal average of 5.7 inches for this time of year.

"Most of the snow that melts into water will be used for irrigation. ... It also helps out a lot of resorts. The more snow at ski resorts, the more people there are to enjoy the snow," he said.

Up to 10 inches of snow fell on Yosemite National Park on Sunday, adding to the 8 inches that fell Thursday night.

The park's plows could not keep up with the heavy snowfall, forcing the closure of two out of the three main roads into the park Sunday afternoon, National Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman said.

At Montecito Lake Resort at Sequoia National Forest, 140 guests who came up for the weekend to enjoy the snow got more than they expected: They were snowed in Sunday.

Highway 198, which ends at Highway 180, was impassable because of the weekend's storms, said Rick Crockett, a manager at Montecito Lake Resort.

"A lot of our guests are enjoying a free room ... [Sunday night] and they're watching the Super Bowl. They are having a good time," Crockett said.

Crockett said the resort was booked over the weekend. Many of the guests were drawn there to cross-country ski, snowboard and snowshoe.

"This is one of the great winters. It's beautiful. There's fresh powder snow," Crockett said.

At the same time, storms sometimes bring inconveniences, like a recent storm that knocked out power to the lodge for five days, he said. Luckily, the lodge has a generator.

Such storms, he said, are "a mixed blessing. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience."

The weekend's snowfall created hassles for some mountain residents and motorists traveling near the mountains.

Around 6:50 p.m. Sunday, 225 customers southeast of Bass Lake were without power, said J.D. Guidi, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman. About 210 customers in Fresno County and parts of Tulare County also lost power, Guidi said. The outages were storm-related, caused by fallen branches or trees, he said. Power was expected to be fully restored by today, he said.

Highway 190 at Wishon Drive near Springville was closed at 7:20 a.m. due to downed power lines and about 2 feet of snow, according to the California Highway Patrol. The road re-opened about 5:20 p.m.

Traffic was slower along Highway 180 near Sequoia and Kings County National Park because of heavy snow, said CHP officer Scott Jobinger. A few vehicles had chains that slipped off or were stuck in the snow but there were no major accidents reported, Jobinger said.

"It's pretty typical for this time of year when there's a storm," he said.

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