TAHOE/TRUCKEE — A persistent high pressure ridge across the northern Pacific Ocean that has largely prevented precipitation from reaching the Sierra Nevada in recent months is expected to give way this week and allow the jet stream to push strong winter storms into the region, according to a forecast from the National Weather Service in Reno.
Despite highs predicted in the 40s, the basin should receive snow rather than rain in the days to come, meteorologist Mark Deutschendorf said Tuesday.
“At lake level, there should be a mix of rain and snow starting Thursday afternoon and continuing into Thursday night,” Deutschendorf said. “On Friday we’ll get a more intense low pressure system coming through. The snow level should go up to 7,500 or 8,000 feet and stay above 7,000 feet through late evening Friday.”
There is a strong likelihood that Friday will see a foot or more of snow above 7,500 feet, he said.
“For the weekend, we have another storm system coming through,” added Deutschendorf. “There’s probably a better chance of snowfall at lake level on Saturday and Sunday. It doesn’t look as strong as Friday’s system, but should be cooler.”
Caltrans crews are preparing for the impending storms, with additional plow drivers brought in from outside the basin to help clear roads for the weekend.
“In the South Shore area, we’ll have seven extra drivers, so about 40 total for the area,” said Caltrans spokesman Gilbert Mohtes-Chan. “In the Truckee Tahoe City area, there will be seven or eight extra drivers, so about 30 total.”
The plows will be geared up and ready for action Wednesday evening, he said.
Although excited at the prospect of snow, local businesses still have a wait-and-see mentality, with cautious optimism ruling the day.
“I’m thinking that once the first snow really hits this week and news coverage starts to spread around the state, we’ll start getting a lot more calls,” said Michael Rock, spokesman for Buckingham Properties on the South Shore. “Media plays such a big part of it.”