TRUCKEE — With up to seven feet of new snow expected over the next 72 hours, the California Highway Patrol and National Weather Service on Monday warned travelers to stay away from the Sierra.
The weather service has issued a thunderstorm warning for a wide area of the mountain region including the Lake Tahoe area until early Wednesday morning.
An avalanche warning has also been issued as strong winds and rapidly accumulating snow will create dangerous and deadly conditions.
KPIX 5’s first weather alert: Current conditions, forecasts, alerts for your area
On Monday, US 395 from Lee Vining to Bridgeport was already closed due to several avalanches.
“Large avalanches can occur in different areas,” the weather service warned.
Glaring storm conditions will also make travel impossible on mountain passes along US Highway 50 and Interstate 80.
“If you are planning to risk traveling over Donner Summit the next two days expect hazardous travel conditions,” the Truckee CHP posted on Facebook. “Expect long delays, strong winds, zero visibility and road closures…Travel is strongly discouraged.”
I-80 was officially closed in both directions as of late Monday morning. The closures are eastbound on Applegate and westbound on the Nevada state line. There was no estimated time for the highway to reopen.
With winds reaching 60 mph, the light, fluffy snow was blowing into mass drifts.
“During periods of heavier snowfall, snowfall rates may exceed 2-3″/hour for a time during these periods of more intense accumulation,” the weather service said. “The colder nature of this storm will bring a lighter/fluffy variety. snow in accordance with snow ratios of 15:1.”
After years of drought, the Sierra has had an overabundance of snow this year. Many areas in the higher elevations have already received more than 34 feet of snowfall since the start of winter.
At the UC Sierra Snow Laboratory near Donner Summit, researchers have recorded more than 36.9 feet of snow and are within striking distance of the 48 feet accumulated in 2017’s epic snow year.
The cold air mass trapped over the mountain range will also result in subzero chills across the Sierra by Wednesday.
After a brief two-day break, stormy weather would return to the Sierra over the weekend.
“The calm pattern will not last long as another system will knock on the door,” forecasters said. This next wave could move through the region as early as midday on Saturday. ”
Leave a Reply