Winter storm warning issued for Tuesday |

Winter storm warning issued for Tuesday

For those eagerly watching the skies for the first flakes of the season, wait no more.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for Monday night and today. The snow level was expected to start at 8,000 and drop to lake-level by midnight Monday. Today, snows will be falling as low as 5,500 feet. The precipitation could last as late as Friday in the form of snow or rain. The weekend forecast is for clear skies, but another trough is expected to develop early next week.

“It does appear that we are going into a different pattern, a winter pattern,” said Ray Collins of the National Weather Service.

The report is good news for area ski resorts. While official opening dates are not set, the resorts are ready.

“The snow guns have been tested and they are all ready to go as soon as the weather drops to the right temperature,” said Kristen Aggers of Heavenly Ski Resort. “We are traditionally the first resort in the basin to open, and we plan on continuing that tradition.”

The start of the winter season also raises safety concerns for Sierra motorists. With more than a foot of snow predicted to fall above 7,000 feet by today, Caltrans will be out on the pass roads to ensure that cars are equipped either with four-wheel drive or tire chains.

“They (Caltrans) watch the weather and they know what’s going on,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Stewart said. “I’m sure they have people out working. They are pretty well prepared.”

Auto safety preparation for oncoming winter is not limited to Caltrans. The recent weather reports have spurred more people to prepare.

“Today a lot of people are coming in for tire chains,” said Sarah Stokes, assistant manager of Kragen Auto Parts in South Lake Tahoe. “I guess they watched the news this morning. They have been looking at tire chains, snow tires and a lot of wiper blades.”

Caltrans uses a three-tiered rating system in issuing a chain requirement, depending on the severity of the storm and the road conditions. Auto safety in winter conditions goes beyond four-wheel drive or tire chains. During chain conditions, the speed limit drops to 30 mph. Motorists should avoid braking suddenly, as it will cause the vehicle to slide, and possible loss of control. Overall, drivers are advised to take their time and drive carefully.

Chain requirements

– R1 Chains or snow tires required

– R2 Chains required on all vehicles except for four-wheel drives with snow tires

– R3 Chains required on all vehicles, no exceptions

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