Weekend storm was just the beginning
Back-to-back cold fronts both holding a high moisture content will inundate the region with heavy precipitation through Wednesday.
Sunday’s storms were only the beginning of a wet weather pattern, according to Terry Ryan, hydrometeorology technician with the National Weather Service in Reno.
Ryan said the series of storms poised to come ashore in the next couple days could bring up to 15 inches of snow at Lake Tahoe, with 4 inches predicted at the minimum.
More than 3 feet of snow could be dropped above 8,000 feet through Wednesday.
High temperatures at lake level will run into the mid-40s in the coming days, meaning rain is a possibility with snow levels reaching 7,000 feet at times.
For today alone around the lake, 4 to 8 inches of snow are forecast by nightfall with another 8 to 12 inches possible overnight.
In the higher elevations, 8 to 12 inches are expected today with up to two feet more falling tonight into Tuesday.
Ryan said local blizzard conditions are likely at times through Wednesday.
Although the forecast calls for clearing by hump day, Ryan said the weather pattern won’t change at this time as the region can expect the same stormy pattern for the next couple of weeks.
“This is the worst, though,” Ryan said, predicting weaker storms over the coming weeks.
The snowfall is giving another boost to the Sierra snowpack.
Jeff Cohen, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, said the overall average snowpack for the season stood at 105 percent of normal for the end of January.
That compares with depths that were 60 to 90 percent of normal in early January. January snowfall was nearly double historic averages for the month.
Cohen said the average snow depth of the 26 Sierra measuring stations north of Lake Tahoe was 116 percent of normal, while depths averaged 99 percent of normal between Tahoe and Yosemite and 100 percent south of Yosemite.
State Climatologist John James has said that if the snowfall continues, it will mean an unprecedented fourth straight wet year for the Sierra.
Chains were mandatory on two major trans-Sierra routes: Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit.
Westbound truck traffic on I-80 was being held at the California line to avoid adding to the congestion in Truckee.
In Nevada, chains or snow tires were required on several highways, including highways 431 over the Mount Rose Summit, 341 over Geiger Grade and 207 over Kingsbury Grade.
Martin Griffith of The Associated Press Contributed to this report.
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