After nearly 20 feet of snow, California braces for another massive set of storms

After a 10-day stretch of storms delivered nearly 20 feet of snow to mountains in California — causing a snow emergency and flooding in certain areas of the state — the Golden State is preparing for another series of heavy storms that have the potential to produce more than 10 more feet of the white stuff in the next week:

That short Instagram video comes from Mammoth Mountain — who holds the highest snow total in the United States at the moment.

RELATED: Snow emergency declared in Lake Tahoe-area as residents take shelter

As referenced in the Instagram caption, Mammoth saw as much as 19 feet of snow fall on parts of the mountain over the past 10 days due to an “atmospheric river.”

Atmospheric rivers are complex — and somewhat rare — environmental events, but what is important to know about them is that they transport a ton of precipitation to an area in a short amount of time.

The reason that’s important is that, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California’s Eastern Sierra is likely to experience another atmospheric river, beginning on Wednesday:

california snow atmospheric river mammoth forecast
Photo: Courtesy of NOAA

And that could mean massive amounts of snow once again blanketing the state … but just how much snow exactly?

Taking a look at the NOAA’s quantitative precipitation forecast, the next seven days of storms hold the potential for as much as 15.4 inches of wet precipitation. Using the standard 10:1 ratio of snow-to-water, that translates to over 150 inches of snow in certain parts of the state:

california snow atmospheric river mammoth forecast
You see that “x” labeled 13.4? That’s right near Mammoth, meaning the resort could add to its already staggering snow total by over 10 feet. Photo: Courtesy of NOAA

So what does all that mean for snowboarders and skiers in California?

For one, it means that mountains like Mammoth could exceed their seasonal average snowfall before February — OnTheSnow reports Mammoth averages 400 inches of snow a year; they’ve already received 269 inches on the summit.

And, if you give credence to Instagram postings, it means that resorts like Mammoth could potentially stay open through August of this year:

This is one big storm. Who’s down for Main Park being open in August?

A photo posted by Mammoth Unbound (@mammothunbound) on

Keep in mind that in the past five years in drought-ravaged California, seasonal snow totals at Mammoth have been as low as 238 inches.

We’ll be following this storm closely as it unfolds this week, so stay tuned for more updates.

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