Warm temperatures are deceiving
December 27, 2002
“The rule of thumb is when you get weather this warm, it will change in 24 to 36 hours,” Rudy Cruz, weather analyst with The National Weather Service said at press time Friday.
If Cruz is correct, by the time this story hits the streets, today feels a lot different than yesterday.
Temperatures were headed to 60 degrees Friday afternoon.
“It is transition day,” Cruz said. “This is sort of a weak high pressure system.
“Winds will kick up Saturday ahead of the cold front.”
Cruz said winds are expected to prompt a high wind watch later this afternoon and produce a little rain in Carson Valley.
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The winds, however, will not be as strong as Dec. 14 — when gusts kicked up to 90 mph and toppled hundreds of Sierra Pacific Power Co. distribution poles, leaving thousands of residents in Northern Nevada without electricity, some for 84 hours.
“Everyone is a bit gun-shy because of that last storm,” Cruz said. “But this jet stream has less intensity.”
The jet stream Dec. 14 had sustained winds of 150 to 200 mph at 30,000 feet. Cruz said the jet stream bringing the next cold front will host winds 75 to 100 mph at 30,000 feet.
“We will still have high wind,” he said. “And some areas are more prone to gusts of wind, but they won’t be sustained.”
At Lake Tahoe, Cruz predicts 1 to 2 feet of snow overnight above 7,000 feet by early Sunday morning.
“They will get a pretty good snow by the time Sunday morning comes around,” said Cruz.
In the valley, temperatures should reach the low 40s Sunday, with weather staying somewhat calm until the next cold front comes in Tuesday.
High temperatures Friday brought out more people to the Highway 395 corridor with many stopping along the way at the car wash.
“I am happy to get rid of the snow in the Valley,” said Arnold Settelmeyer, Gardnerville rancher and member of the Douglas County Water Conveyance Advisory Committee.
“We’ve been shoveling all week.”
Settelmeyer isn’t worried about the thaw or balmy conditions that evoke memories of the 1997 flood.
“I’m not too worried,” he said. “This is normal procedure, we get a thaw before we get another storm.”
Cruz calls it the “pineapple connection,” while Settelmeyer refers to it as a “Hawaiian storm.”
A warm, tropical air mass that changed to rain and melted the Sierra’s snow pack rapidly prompted the 1997 flood, according to Cruz. It also rained 10 inches over 10,000 feet elevations.
“We don’t see that like we did in 1997,” Settelmeyer said. “There was also quite a depth of snow that soaks up the rain like a sponge.”
Still, Settelmeyer is watching the weather.
“Who knows what comes next?” he said. “I guarantee one thing, it’ll change.”
n Regina Purcell can be e-mailed at email@example.com