SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - It's beginning to look a lot like a white Christmas.
A winter storm predicted to last through Sunday could bring 2 to 4 inches of snow per hour during its heaviest precipitation.
By Friday afternoon, the storm had already brought 5 inches of snow at lake level, said Jessica Kielhorn, a meteorologist technician with the National Weather Service in Reno. By Sunday afternoon, the storm could bring 3 feet of snow at lake level and up to 8 feet of snow at higher elevations.
"This is a pretty significant storm," Kielhorn said.
Snow levels are expected to drop to lake level by Saturday night, when the heavier part of the storm will hit the region. There will be periods of heavy snow, and winds could reach 100 miles per hour on the ridge tops. Kielhorn said.
Both the high winds and heavy snow could create whiteout conditions, she added.
"We're discouraging people from traveling this weekend," she said. "If you have to travel, carry chains, have fluids and emergency supplies, and expect road closures."
A second storm is predicted to hit the region Tuesday and could last through Thursday and also bring snow to the area.
"It looks pretty impressive," she added.
South Lake Tahoe firefighters made several recommendations to residents regarding the heavy snowfall expected throughout the weekend and into next week.
Snow levels are expected to fluctuate every six to 12 hours during the weekend, leading to the possibility of flooding in some areas if snow turns to rain, according to a Friday statement from the fire department.
Sand bags and sand are available at Fire Station #3, at 2101 Lake Tahoe Blvd., and Bijou Community Park in the rear pavilion area. The park is located at the corner of Al Tahoe Boulevard and Johnson Boulevard. People should access the fire station from James Avenue, according to the statement.
Firefighters also reminded residents to keep vehicles and snow blowers full of fuel, monitor snow accumulations on roofs and keep gas meters free from snow to prevent them from freezing.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District also recommends keeping a path dug to a residence's water shut-off valve and marking the valve in case of emergencies.
If pipes freeze, people should wrap them in rags and repeatedly pour hot water over them, according to the district.
Open flames and electrical devices should never be used to thaw frozen pipes, according to the district.