Rare May storm impacts California following word of ski resort staying open until August
By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 27, 2019, 1:00:09 AM EDT
Following the announcement that Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort will stay open into August, more mountain snow is falling as a rare May storm sweeps across California.
Instead of sunshine and warmth spanning the state, a storm will continue to spread rain, thunderstorms and mountain snow from north to south into Sunday night.
"Sunday's storm can be potent enough to produce some hail from San Francisco to Fresno in California," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Gresiak. "Funnel clouds can be seen in a few locations."
On Saturday, there was a report of quarter-sized hail in Kern County.
Residents are reminded to seek shelter at the first clap of thunder to avoid being struck by lightning.
Sunday has turned unusually wet and unsettled across most of the state with showers and pockets of steadier rain.
Baseball fans headed to Oracle Park to watch the San Francisco Giants host the Arizona Diamondbacks will need rain gear. The showers and any thunderstorms may delay the game.
Sunday can end with downtown Los Angeles receiving measurable rain during the last six days of May for the first time since May 2010.
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This month is already one of the wettest Mays on record in some communities, such as San Francisco, Fresno and Sacramento. The rain this holiday weekend will only add to those totals.
Adding to the unusual nature of Sunday's storm, records for lowest high temperatures are in jeopardy. Highs will be generally held 10 to 20 degrees below normal, but there can be departures up to 30 degrees in some communities.
"Sunday is downright cold for Memorial Day weekend with temperatures in Fresno being stuck in the 50s," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham.
More typical highs for the end of May range from the upper 60s along the California coast to the 80s in California's Central Valley and the middle 90s in the deserts of Southeastern California and Arizona.
Most of California is cooler than Fairbanks, Alaska, on Sunday.
Anyone camping this holiday weekend will have to ensure they have the proper means to stay warm and dry to avoid hypothermia.
In the mountains, snow levels have dropped to 5,000 feet with 4-8 inches expected in elevations at or above 7,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada. There can be an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 14 inches.
In the mountains of Southern California, snow totals may average 2-4 inches with localized amounts of 6 inches above 6,000 feet.
Travelers can face slow and slippery conditions in the mountains. The snow will be a boon for ski enthusiasts, especially following the announcement that Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is planning to stay open into August.
As of Friday, 489 inches of snow has been measured at the ski resort's main lodge this season with 29 inches alone in May. That makes this month the snowiest on record, surpassing May 2015. A total of 715 inches has buried its summit this season.
The chill will ease across California for Memorial Day as the storm sweeps eastward. The holiday will feel more like April with highs ranging from the middle 60s from San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Diego and within a degree or two of 70 in California's Central Valley. Temperatures will also struggle to climb to near 80 in the lower deserts.
At least, Memorial Day will be better for festivities as dry weather and some sunshine prevails outside of the Sierra Nevada.
The storm will return snow to Flagstaff, Arizona, on Memorial Day as temperatures are held about 20 degrees below the day's normal high of 98 in Phoenix.
Ahead of the storm, gusty winds will create patchy blowing dust across the Desert Southwest into Memorial Day with a heightened risk for wildfires in New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.
Temperatures are expected to rebound across California and the Southwest after Memorial Day and the storm's departure, but a return of above-normal heat may not come through at least the end of May.
Download the free AccuWeather app for a more detailed forecast for your community. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
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