The mega-storm that has blasted Mammoth Lakes and other outposts in the Eastern Sierra for eight straight days was easing up Wednesday. By 10 a.m., the sun was poking through the storm clouds.
But the popular ski destination still faces two more days of snow, and power outages to more than 500 customers that began late Tuesday spilled into midday Wednesday.
System outages were common across the area. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office warned that some emergency calls were not getting through.
“Landlines are down in Mono County, which has impacted our 911 capabilities,” the sheriff’s office reported at 8:30 a.m. Authorities advised residents to call from a mobile phone or to go to the nearest fire station.
Still, the sight of the sun, absent since Jan. 3 when the string of storms began, was cause for hope after up to 15 feet of snow fell across the region. U.S. 395 reopened, though Caltrans required chains from 17 miles north of Bishop to one mile north of State Route 203.
For updates on road conditions, call (800) 427-7623.
A blizzard warning was lifted Wednesday morning, but more snow was expected through Thursday, with moderate to heavy accumulations and strong winds.
The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center warned of “very dangerous avalanche conditions” throughout the region and recommended against travel in those areas.
June Mountain, 20 minutes north of Mammoth, closed for a second day. At Mammoth Mountain, windy conditions were the concern, and the resort was slowly opening lower lifts at Canyon, Eagle and Main. As of 9 a.m., seven chairs were operating. The status of the lifts was being updated throughout the day.
Spot checks of retailers found that groceries and gas supplies were holding out, though tire chains were in short supply. Chain deliveries were expected Wednesday, and stores said they anticipated business as usual for the coming holiday weekend.
The string of storms that blasted Mammoth Lakes was linked to so-called “atmospheric rivers,” giant airborne slabs of water that bring unusually heavy concentrations of rain and snow.
Former Times photographer Don Bartletti once took a flight through the systems and described them as thousands of feet deep. Riding through them on a research flight, he said, was like “shooting over rapids in a big boat.”
“The biggest rivers on Earth are up in the sky,” he said of the storms.
By Wednesday, the biggest rivers seemed to have passed.
Here is the National Weather Service forecast for the next several days:
New snow: 2-4 inches. High near 23. Southeast wind around 5 mph becoming northeast in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation: 100%.
A 20% chance of snow. Turning mostly sunny, with a high near 25, lows around 5. Northeast wind around 5 mph.
Mostly sunny, with highs in the mid-30s.
Sunny and slightly warmer.
Clear, with a high around 40.