May storms line up

Umbrellas came out Wednesday around Watsonville as May showers drifted through the Central Coast. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

A series of wet weather systems are passing through Northern California and are expected to bring as much as an inch of rain in higher elevations and up to two feet of snow in the high Sierra. The storms, drifting south from the Gulf of Alaska, could also bring snowfall into some lower elevations, the National Weather Service said.

Unusual for the second half of May — with summer starting June 21 — a winter storm warning has been issued for the southern Sierra Nevada through Friday. Officials at Yosemite National Park said Glacier Point Road, the popular route that gives views of Yosemite and Half Dome, was shut Wednesday and will remain closed until the second winter storm trudges through on Tuesday. While intermittent rain and wind swept the region Wednesday and overnight into Thursday, the larger, wetter system is due Saturday, said Spencer Tangen, meteorologist with the national Weather Service of Monterey.

“The main center of low pressure coming on shore, will end late Thursday, leaving way for Friday to be pretty much dry,” Tangen said. “The next front to come through Saturday afternoon will peak into the evening. There will most likely be lingering showers Sunday with a chance of thunderstorms and lightening Sunday evening. Right now the weather model is showing another system is likely to come through Tuesday and into Wednesday with the possibility of more rain, but we’ll have to watch and see what happens.”

Tangen said The Weather Service in Sacramento is predicting up to two feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

“There is a winter storm warning with the current round of weather,” Tangen said. “Freezing levels could drop to about 6,000 feet.”

High winds are accompanying the wet weather and will pick up again on Saturday.

“We did have a gale warning on the Monterey Bay Wednesday into Thursday,” he said. “A small craft advisory is still in effect.”

Tangen said winds hit 15 (17.26 mph) to 20 (23 mph) knots with gusts up to 25 mph.

Winds will also increase Saturday on land and over the sea.

“These kind of storms typically don’t happen this time of year and are catching some people off guard,” Tangen said.

He advised motorists to slow down in the rain and to check weather reports ahead of time if they are traveling into higher elevations.

The high today will be around 59 degrees and the overnight low will be around 46.

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