3 feet of snow expected in Sierra by Friday

As spring 2022 enters its second month, a potentially major winter storm is predicted for the Sierra Nevada.

A winter storm warning is in effect for Great Lake Tahoe from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

Heavy snow is expected at higher elevations, with 2-3 feet possible above 7,000 feet. Meanwhile, 1 to 2 feet of snow is likely west of Highway 89 and in the Carson Range, while 6 to 12 inches is possible below 7,000 feet.

Wind gusts of 50mph and up to 80mph across the Sierra ridges will make travel difficult, the NWS reports, with long delays and possible highway closures over mountain passes.

“Hazardous conditions will impact morning and evening commutes Thursday through Friday,” according to the winter storm warning. “Strong winds and heavy accumulations of snow could damage tree branches and cause power outages.

“Avoid travel if possible, (because) you could be stuck in your vehicle for many hours in conditions similar to mid-winter storms. If you must travel, be prepared for long delays and pack a kit emergency with extra food, water and clothing. If you are staying home, have a backup plan in case of a power outage.”

The Sierra Avalanche Center is also issuing a backcountry avalanche watch between Yuba Pass (Highway 49) to the north and Ebbetts Pass (Highway 4) to the south, including the greater Lake Tahoe area from 4 p.m. Wednesday to 4 p.m. friday.

A winter storm bringing feet of fresh snow and strong winds can lead to widespread avalanche activity in the mountains. A heavy snow load could cause large and destructive avalanches,” according to an advisory. “Very dangerous avalanche conditions may occur. Travel in and near avalanche terrain is not recommended at HIGH avalanche danger.”

This week’s largest storm follows a smaller system that brought light snow at higher elevations throughout the region on Monday, as well as a light storm that swept through the area last week.

As for this week, across the Truckee Meadows and at lower elevations in Carson-Reno, a wind advisory will be in effect from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 1 p.m. Thursday, according to NWS. Southwest winds of 20 to 35 mph, gusting up to 55 mph, are expected.

“Now is the time to secure loose outdoor items such as patio furniture, holiday decorations and garbage cans before the winds increase which could blow these items away,” according to the NWS advisory. Wednesday morning. “The best thing to do is to prepare ahead of time by making sure you have extra food and water on hand, flashlights with spare batteries, and/or candles in in the event of a power failure.”

Snow levels are expected to drop to 6,000 feet after midnight and early Thursday morning. Further precipitation between a quarter to a half inch of rain is possible through Thursday evening.

Snow levels will drop from 5,700 to 4,700 feet after midnight through early Friday, according to the NWS. Further snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible, with little to no snow expected at low elevations through Friday afternoon.

Kevin MacMillan is city editor of the Reno Gazette Journal. Email him at [email protected]; follow him @lowercase_kevin. Here’s how you can support the RGJ’s constant media coverage and local journalism.

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