A winter storm Sunday ripped through the Sierra, dropping as much as 18 inches of snow in higher elevations and bringing the issuance of winter storm warnings and road controls throughout the Tahoe area.
The snow started to accumulate Sunday afternoon as cold air behind the storm front began making its way into the Tahoe Basin, said Al Cox, meteorology technician for the National Weather Service in Reno.
Prior to Sunday afternoon, South Lake Tahoe had experienced periods of snow and rain but above-freezing temperatures refused to let the snow stick to roadways at lake level.
All the area passes reported chain controls of some kind with parts of both Highway 88 and Highway 89 closed due to snow and avalanche controls.
Cox said a rain total of 2.4 inches was reported at Blue Canyon, which is at about 5,000 feet above sea level on the western slope of the Sierra, for the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, leading him to believe the heavier snow should have hit the Tahoe area later on Sunday. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., nearly one inch of rain was reported at Blue Canyon.
Snow accumulations at lake level could be as high as eight inches while above 7,000 feet, area ski resorts and mountain passes could see much more new snow before the system passes through the area this morning.
Not only was snow forecast, but winds were also expected to reach 20-40 mph at lake level, and 70 mph over the mountain passes.
The storm had caused many traffic accidents on local highways but, according to law enforcement agencies, there had been no serious accidents or major injuries reported through Sunday afternoon.
Today, lingering snow showers are expected to be prevalent early in the day as bad weather will be replaced later in the day with frigid temperatures.
Cox said the Tahoe area will be hard pressed to see temperatures above the freezing level Monday and overnight lows were expected to drop into the upper teens.
Later in the week, a drier but cold weather pattern is expected in the area as the snow is forecast to move east of the region.
The lake’s neighbors to the east, Reno and the Carson Valley areas, should have received some frozen precipitation Sunday evening as well.
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