Strange weather has affected Placerville the past few days, with a tornado warning and large amounts of rain and snowfall being out of the ordinary.
Placerville was subject to a tornado warning from the National Weather Service on Monday. Tom Dang of the Sacramento branch explained that there had been five reports of tornadoes, with the closet to Placerville being north of Auburn.
“Even though we have a general idea of the storm track, we have an area of uncertainty,” he said. “It could veer off in a different way and the polygons we make account for that.” The polygons are the areas on the map the NWS marks for the warning. “The polygons tend to be a bit larger than the storm itself.”
Placerville was in that area of uncertainty, he said, and yesterday’s storm and tornado warning were “as big as it could get. Yesterday was it,” he said Tuesday. He noted that Auburn is similar in elevation to Placerville, and if a tornado was going to touch down, it would have been yesterday.
Meanwhile, the NWS confirmed touchdowns in Elk Grove and Yuba City, with a team on the way to the Auburn tornado. “We have reports of damage,” Dang said, which lead him to be “reasonably confident” that the tornado did touch down.
On the precipitation front, Placerville Airport reported a total of 1.42 inches of rain between Sunday and Monday, with the Mountain Democrat’s rain catcher — which admittedly tipped over at one point — showing an inch between Monday morning and Tuesday morning. The average rainfall in Placerville in October is, according to The Weather Channel’s Website, 2.12 inches.
But the 139-year averge for Placerville in October is 2.10, which has now been exceeded.
Henry Carr’s rain gauge on Clay Street recorded 1.75 inches for the storm.
Meanwhile, snow was falling at 4,000 feet, said Rochelle Jenkins of Caltans. Echo Summit saw 29 inches of snow since the storm began on Sunday to 8 a.m. Tuesday. She said there has since been additional snowfall, but there is no official data yet. Records from the Western Regional Climate Center from 1944 to 1994 put the average snowfall as 12.6 inches in October — less than half of what fell.
Jenkins also noted that chain control on Highway 80 had just been lifted, but Caltrans has faced problems with people trying “run over the hill” and beat chain control. “Half the motorists (Monday) night were stuck,” she said, and did not have chains, food or water. “Be prepared. We had people in shorts and flip-flops.” She urged motorists to check the weather and plan accordingly, “for the safety of yourself and others.” She noted that a second storm is en route and that chain control is to be expected.