TRUCKEE, Calif. - As a series of storms continues to hammer the greater Truckee/Tahoe region with rain and wet snow, officials are preparing for what could be a major flood event this weekend for the Truckee/North Tahoe region and neighboring valley areas.
Reporting that "major flooding is forecast," the National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Truckee River near Truckee from late Saturday night into Monday morning, saying the river may exceed flood stage in the downtown Truckee area, along Highway 89 and near the Placer/Nevada County line.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the Truckee River will reach near 8 feet between 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday - flood stage for this portion of the river is 4.5 feet, according to a late Friday afternoon statement from Placer County.
"Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause elevated levels on small creeks and streams and ponding of water in developed areas, highways, streets and underpasses, as well as other poor drainage areas and low lying spots," according to the statement. "(Storms) may produce flooding and damage to homes and property along the Truckee River in the Highway 89 corridor."
Truckee residents in the Foxmead Lane and Riverside Drive neighborhoods - which line the river in downtown Truckee - are encouraged to take active precautions and monitor conditions closely, the Truckee Police Department announced at 2 p.m.
According to Truckee Police, self-serve sandbags are available at the Truckee Fire Protection District Station 92, at 11473 Donner Pass Road; and the Truckee Ranger Station Parking lot at 10811 Stockrest Spring.
On the North Shore, through Placer County, sandbags are available at the following locations: North Tahoe Fire Station 52, 288 North Shore Blvd., Kings Beach; Placer County Department of Public Works Corporation Yard, 2501 North Lake Blvd., Tahoe City; Old Squaw Valley Fire Station, 1810 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley; Northstar Community Services District Corporation Yard, 50 Trimont Lane off Northstar Boulevard near Northstar California; and North Tahoe Fire Station 53, 5425 West Lake Blvd., Homewood.
Moderate or minor flooding is possible with the Truckee River in Reno, NWS reports, and in other areas in the Reno/Sparks, Carson City and Minden/Gardnerville areas, as well as in the Sierra foothill communities of Grass Valley and Nevada City.
All day Friday, rain has been falling steadily - and heavily at times - in Truckee's lower elevations and at lake level around Lake Tahoe, with many inches of wet snow falling at higher elevations.
According to NWS, a second period of heavy rain will reach the area Saturday afternoon and continue through Sunday. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches are possible from the Lake Tahoe Basin north to western Lassen County, with higher amounts of up to 7 inches possible west of Highway 89.
Across Western Nevada, rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible in the foothills west of Highway 395, with amounts of 0.75 to 1.5 inches likely along valley floors in Reno, Carson City and Minden.
Snow levels with the second system will start near 7,500 to 8,000 feet and may rise as high as 10,000 feet early Sunday morning. Snow levels should lower Sunday, but may not fall below 8,000 feet until Sunday afternoon.
The situation caused officials to declare a state of emergency in Washoe County, Reno and Sparks earlier Friday.
"We are joining forces with our regional partners to declare a state of emergency in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County in order to access state resources that can help us maintain public safety as we deal with the impact of this 25-year flood," said Aaron Kenneston, Washoe County Emergency Manager, in a Friday afternoon statement. "Those resources include the Nevada National Guard, the Division of Forestry, and other agencies that specialize in emergency disaster management and relief."
Reno, Sparks and Washoe County have set up more than 40 sandbag locations for the weekend. Anyone in need of sandbags is advised to bring a shovel. For a complete list of those locations, information about emergency kits and links to related websites, visit www.floodawareness.com.
Area residents are advised to ensure they have access to flashlights, food and water, medications, batteries and other emergency supplies throughout the weekend in case of power outages.
"Valuables should be moved away from areas subject to flooding," NWS reports.
If you are in an area that may be affected by rising water, Placer County encourages you to take the following steps:
• Make an evacuation plan - what to take, where to go, how to stay in touch.
• If you think you might need to evacuate - go. If you delay, you may be trapped.
• No matter what happens, stay out of the water. Debris in flood runoff and high flows makes it extremely dangerous to attempt to retrieve objects or rescue people.
• Stay calm, think clearly and be decisive. When in doubt, call 911 and ask for help.