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Mammoth sets record snowfall total — as Memorial Day comes

Mammoth sets record snowfall total — as Memorial Day comes
Mammoth Mountain has received a record 29 inches of snow this month. (Peter Morning / Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

California’s strange spring weather continues to stun the state, now setting a record for the snowiest May at Mammoth Mountain.

The resort got a record 29 inches of snow this month, giving those in Southern California a chance to ditch the sandy beach for the powdery mountain this Memorial Day weekend. Roughly 1.4 million passengers are expected at Los Angeles International Airport through Tuesday, a new record.

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The snowfall has already topped May 2015’s record of 28 inches, further adding to the enormous dump of powder that Mammoth has received. A total of 489 inches have accumulated at the main lodge, and 715 inches have been recorded at the summit. The ski resort’s current base depth is between 90 and 155 inches.

In February, residents had to tunnel out from their homes after a record-breaking 24 feet of snow fell during the month.

New research recently linked a series of earthquakes near California’s Long Valley Caldera in the Mammoth Mountain area to heavy snowmelt during a wet winter. Researchers planned to watch for seismic activity as it pertains to snowmelt, which typically begins in late May to early June. The expectation is that there will be a large number of seismic swarms, as there have been in the past, but there’s no guarantee.

Emily Montgomery-Brown, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey who published the findings, said there’s been an increase in runoff near Mammoth, but snow is still falling.

“We’ll have to keep watching and see when the temperatures really start to warm up,” she said.

Overall, it’s been an exceptionally wet and snowy May in California. The placement of the jet stream — a high-altitude river of air running from the Pacific across the United States — is largely responsible. The jet stream has hit California with a series of storms out of the South Pacific.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area originally pushed its closing date to July 7, but on Friday the resort said it will now be open into August. That’s happened only twice before, making snow a new symbol of a California summer.

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