MORONGO BASIN — A powerful storm system from the Pacific Northwest brought wind, rain and finally snow this week.
The system began with winds around 60 mph and even higher Monday.
Twentynine Palms reported a 63 mph wind gust to the National Weather Service. The highest winds were clocked at 71 mph in Bishop.
The wind sent up dust storms visible to satellites. Brown-out conditions were reported on Twentynine Palms Highway as well as interstates 15 and 40. The NWS heard from numerous people who said the visibility went down to nearly zero in Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley.
The rain poured in next, falling on Wednesday and Thursday. Some parts of Yucca Valley had gotten 1.99 inches of rain by Thursday.
Some areas of the desert broke their daily rainfall records, with Needles reporting 1.13 inches of rain by Friday morning, shattering the 0.39-inch record from 1981. The storm swelled washes and caused flash flooding in Mohave County, where firefighters made swiftwater rescues in Golden Valley and Lake Havasu City in Arizona.
For much of the western Morongo Basin, the snow followed. An estimated 1 to 1½ feet fell Thursday. The highways remained open, but the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans escorted vehicles through the Yucca Grade for part of Thursday as snow and slush made the road surface dangerous.
Other streets in Yucca Valley were the scenes of rollovers and collisions as vehicles slid on the snow and ice.
In the mountain communities, Big Bear resorts reported getting four feet of snow by 8 a.m. Friday, Big Bear City got 1½ to 2½ feet and Lake Arrowhead up to 2 feet. Chains were still required on all mountain roads Friday and the only road open to Big Bear was State Route 18 from Lucerne.
Although there are clouds in the Basin’s forecast, the weather should stay dry until Tuesday night.