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‘A big mess’: Mammoth prepares for a monster snowstorm

The ski slopes after a heavy snowfall at the Northstar California resort Thursday in Truckee.
(Northstar California)

Below clear blue skies Friday, people in the snow-shrouded ski town of Mammoth Lakes were gleeful that a series of storms on the way to the eastern Sierra Nevada could bring several more feet of snow.

Yet some also worried that the big, wet storm on tap for this weekend — known as an atmospheric river — could dump so much rain and snow that it could shut down some ski runs or roads.

In preparation, snowplows were scraping icy roadways. Excavators and snowblower operators stayed busy clearing and moving huge piles of snow. Some cars sat abandoned on the roadside or at gas stations, covered with thick blankets of snow from the most recent storm.

Outside Kittredge Sports, store manager Terry Lucian took advantage of the clear weather to shovel away some of the mounds of snow that had built up outside the entrance.

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“If the storm comes in as wet as they’re talking about, it’ll make for a big mess with some really heavy snow,” Lucian, 60, said as he scooped and scraped icy snow from the ski shop’s A-frame building.

Lucian said the recent storm has helped boost business as visitors flock to Mammoth to ski and snowboard fresh powder. But he worries some skiers traveling to the area this weekend could be in for disappointment if storm conditions worsen to the point that they shut down parts of Mammoth Mountain.

Live updates: Winter weather slams California »

“Everybody wants the snow, they just don’t want it while they’re here,” the 39-year Mammoth resident said. “It’ll be a rough couple of days, but we need the water. So it’s going to be OK.”

Some Mammoth locals agreed that the big, warm and wet storm expected starting Saturday might not be the best for skiing because much of it is expected to fall as rain at all but the highest elevations.

“I cannot recall a season that had so much lower elevation rain like we are having,” snow and weather blogger Steve Taylor wrote Friday on MammothSnowman.com. “The good news is there are colder storms now lined up for next week so we my get rain, but the next system should be all snow.”

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