Brief spring storm delivers long-awaited rain and snow to parched Northern California

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SAN FRANCISCO — A brief spring storm delivered a welcome batch of rain to Northern California on Saturday as well as an unexpectedly hearty supply of snow that closed roads in Yosemite National Park and made tire chains a requirement in the mountain passes around Lake Tahoe.

The wet weather that moved in from the Pacific Northwest on Friday night produced nearly an inch of rain in Sacramento and dumped more than a foot of snow at Tahoe-area ski resorts that were forced to end their seasons early last month because of an absence of snow, National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Dang said.

The amount of precipitation the storm unleashed "was a very pleasant surprise," although the fresh layers of powder that continued to accumulate on Saturday afternoon won't last because temperatures are expected to rise into the 50s on Sunday and the 60s on Monday, Dang said.

"It may stick around for a couple of days. But it won't be around for too terribly long, unfortunately," he said. "That being said, the water will stick around in the reservoirs, which is encouraging."

The snowfall also was heavier than expected at Yosemite, where officials closed three major roads in the park — including one that had remained open throughout the unusually dry winter. Two inches of snow fell in the Yosemite Valley and up to eight inches were forecast for higher elevations, although the moisture was expected to turn to rain and wind by late Saturday.

Much of the San Francisco Bay Area received a half-inch to an inch of rain before the sun came out on Saturday afternoon, amounts that Weather Service forecasters called impressive given how quickly the storm passed through the region.

As was the case with a storm that reached Northern California about three weeks ago, Saturday's dousing was not expected to ease the state's extreme drought.

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