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Mammoth Mountain Is Bracing For Up To 20 Feet Of Snow

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Skiers and snowboarders looking to escape rainy Los Angeles this weekend may want to consider heading to Mammoth Mountain, which is getting hit with the first in a string of storms that could dump fresh snow through next week.

According to the ski resort, 40 to 84 inches of new snow has fallen since Tuesday, and if the most optimistic of projections pan out, they could see up to 20 feet of snow fall over the next 10 days. "A second and third system are lined up for Saturday and Sunday. There's a lot more snow in our forecast," Lauren Burke, public relations and social media manager for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, told LAist. "It will definitely be the biggest storm in the last five years if the forecast pans out."

As much as new snow sounds like a godsend for a ski resort, it could be a hindrance as well. Only nine of the 25 lifts are currently in operation at Mammoth, with lifts in the higher elevations on hold because of the wind and weather conditions. Plows are working to clear the streets and parking lots.

Weather forecasters say the cause of the snow stems from strong winds blowing in warm water from the tropical Pacific and impacting the West Coast, in what is known as an "atmospheric river." And because the system is so moist, the snow it will be dumping might be less than ideal for people shredding the mountain. Edan Weishahn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Reno office, explained to LAist that a lot of the snow that will be falling this weekend is known as Sierra Cement. "The water content is very high, so it'll be wet and sticky," said Weishahn.

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As much as this reasonably wet winter has been a relief after years of drought in California, Weishahn says it's still too early to say how much this system will help the state. "In order to make any meaningful impact on the drought, we really want the snowpack to stick up there," said Weishahn, who explains that the warmth of the atmospheric river means it will be mostly rain at elevations of 9,000 feet and below.

This unfortunately also means that the state could see its worst flooding in a decade, with the Yosemite area possibly seeing "historic" levels of flooding, according to Weishahn. The park is currently preparing for the possibility of closing due to the rains.