The Emerald Triangle faces down this winter’s most significant storm yet this Tuesday to Thursday, with higher elevations expected to receive as much as two feet of snow and gale-force winds making landfall across the North Coast. Matthew Kidwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Eureka office, provided an overview of the coming storm.
Kidwell predicted upwards of two feet of snow could accumulate over the coming days. He explained that snow levels would vary across the Emerald Triangle. Trinity County could very likely see snowfall on valley floors. Northern Humboldt County’s snow level is expected to be 1,500 feet elevation, while Southern Humboldt’s snow level will be approximately 2,500 feet.
Facing down potentially two feet of snow, Kidwell said rural areas in Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity Counties could see significant impacts, including “power outages, closed road, downed trees, and delayed travel.”
Kidwell said that Mendocino County would not see as low as snow levels, with snow gathering around 1,500-1,800 feet rising quickly to 2,500-3,000 feet.
Kidwell said Mendocino County would experience “some of the heaviest rains of this winter,” predicting 2’’-3’’ off precipitation in the coming days. Along with those rains, Kidwell expects “significant rises in creeks and streams. He said, “rivers are going to rise rapidly, but no flooding is expected.”
Kidwell said that despite the significant rains, Mendocino County’s drought would require multiple winter storms to make up the precipitation deficit. As of right now, Kidwell said Mendocino County has 6.25’’ of rain this season compared to at 30-year-average of 19.75’’. With this sort of deficit, Kidwell said, “it’s going to take a lot of storms to get back to normal.”
For the Humboldt and Mendocino County coasts, Kidwell predicted gusts of over 50 miles per hour along coastal ridges with large waves of 15-20 feet building as gale-force winds sweep over the waters.
As North Bay counties prepare for the potential of debris flows in the wake of this summer’s fires, Kidwell said there is no indication recent Emerald County fires could lead to similar debris flows. Addressing the area of the monstrous August Complex, Kidwell said, “a lot of that area is above the snow level, so there is less concern for debris flows.”
Kidwell did say the weather office is monitoring the LNU and Hennessey Fire areas for the potential for debris flows.
Though impacts from the storm could be significant, Kidwell said the snow “won’t stick around for too long” as temperatures are expected to rise Wednesday.