Winter storms to drop several feet of snow at Lake Tahoe into next week
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After a break from inclement weather on Friday, the Sierra is going to be pounded with storms for several days starting this weekend.
The National Weather Service in Reno has two winter advisories in place and are forecasting up to 7 feet of snow for the mountains around Lake Tahoe through the middle of next week.
The service has a storm warning that goes into effect at 4 a.m. Saturday and lasts for 48 hours, and a storm watch that immediately follows from 4 a.m. Monday through late Tuesday night.
For the warning, up to a foot of snow is expected and up to 2 feet is possible above 7,000 feet. Winds will gust as high as 90 mph on the Sierra crest.
For the watch, a stronger, warmer system may drop a foot of snow in the basin and 2 to 5 feet above 7,000 feet. Winds are expected to hit 120 mph on Sierra ridges.
Mountain travel will be difficult to impossible. Anyone traveling during the storms should be ready to spend many hours in their vehicles and should be prepared with extra food, water, clothing and tire chains.
The hazardous road conditions will also impact morning and evening commutes.
Strong winds could cause tree damage and power outages. The service adds there is potential Monday into Tuesday for urban and small stream, and mainstream river flooding.
The weekend storm will come in two waves, the service said. The Saturday wave projects lighter snowfall compared to the second wave on Sunday where the forecast calls for 8 to 12 inches of snow at lake level and up to 2 feet for the surrounding mountains. Valley floors could also receive a few inches of snow.
Forecaster confidence remains high that a multi-day storm starting Monday will be warmer and tap into an atmospheric river and flooding is possible.
“If model solutions materialize, we will likely see strong wind gusts in excess of 50 mph down to valley floors and 100-plus mph along the Sierra crest, feet of heavy Sierra cement snowfall above 6000 feet, and moderate-heavy rainfall downwind of the Sierra into western Nevada. With high snow levels and heavy rainfall projected and underlying soils/snowpack primed for more efficient run-off, the potential for urban, small stream, and mainstem river flooding could become a very real concern.”
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services this week issued an alert, that crashed for several minutes as users flocked to view the message, which warned of potential mudslides and debris flow in burn scars created by the Mosquito and Caldor fires, including in Christmas Valley. The county also has developed a website for residents looking for up-to-date information about animal services, road closures, evacuation orders, power outage reporting and tracking, emergency alert messages and more.
Chains and/or snow tires are required Friday morning on most highways at Lake Tahoe except U.S. Highway 50 from the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe to Stateline and from the “Y” to Camp Richardson on Emerald Bay Road.
California State Route 88 is closed at Pickett’s Junction to nearly Kirkwood and SR-89 is closed at Emerald Bay.
For current road conditions, call 511 or visit https://www.nvroads.com or Caltrans Quickmap.
The service said the storm door remains open, with the wet pattern continuing into at least mid-January with the potential for a break with drier conditions late January.
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