Rain and snow blanket the Hill

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This National Weather Service map is based on a new forecast model. Produced on Jan 24, it forecasts an above-average chance of precipitation for Southern California during the next two weeks. Photo courtesy National Weather Service


This National Weather Service map, produced on Jan 20, forecasts a below-average chance of precipitation for Southern California during the next four weeks.
Photo courtesy National Weather Service


During the first month of 2017, cascades of precipitation and acts of havoc have befallen the Hill and its residents.

Roads are snow covered and icy, and rockslides are beginning. Power outages occurred during the rain-sodden snowfall. One outage in Fern Valley that began Saturday continued into Tuesday. Nearly 90 homes were initially affected. Power was gradually restored until Tuesday when two homes remained without electricity.

“Friday, we ran multiple calls for power lines down,” said Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz. “Non-specific reports of power outage(s) with pole damaged, lines down and trees or branches into lines.”

On Monday, both highways 74 and 243 had partial closures due to rocks and mud. Highway 74 was partially closed near McCall Park and Highway 243 was closed near the north end at Twin Pines.

Pine Cove has recorded more than 28 inches of rain this year, which is greater than the long-term annual average of 25.7 inches.

In January, the rainfall has nearly equaled the total rain from July through December. At the U.S. Forest Service’s Keenwild Ranger Station, 8.4 inches of rain has been recorded since Jan. 1. For the six months since July 1, the total was 10.3 inches.

As of Jan. 24, the total rain at Keenwild since July 1 has been 18.7 inches, which is equal to the historic average of 18.7 inches through the end of February.

Rain began Thursday and snow fell Friday. Rain dominated at lower elevations on Saturday and Sunday, but higher areas have received more than a foot of snow. On Monday, Idyllwild and lower elevations received several more inches of snow.

Pine Cove as of Monday morning recorded nearly 18 inches for a total of 47 inches of snow this winter.

Nearly 4.5 feet of snow fell at the Long Valley Ranger Station, in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, according to park officials. At San Jacinto Peak, the snow level approaches 6 feet. Snow shoes are required for any hiking in these areas.

At the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the snow depth is 5 feet, said Greg Purdy, public affairs manager for the tramway.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency following the severe winter storms. While Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties were designated, Riverside County was omitted.

The emergency proclamations help counties secure funding to recover from severe winter storms that have caused flooding, mudslides, erosion, debris flow and damage to roads and highways.

Idyllwild School was open Friday, but early Monday morning the Hemet Unified School District announced, “Due to the weather, Idyllwild School, Hamilton K-8, Hamilton High, and Cottonwood School will be closed Monday, January 23rd.” On Tuesday, the school had a delayed opening.

So far the winter of 2017 is not behaving, according to the summer and fall forecasts for a La Niña pattern — generally well-below average precipitation.

As of Friday, Jan. 20, the most recent National Weather Service predictions for the remainder of this winter and coming spring are below-average chances of precipitation and slightly above-average temperatures.

No precipitation is forecast in the next 10 days, according to NWS.

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