Emergency proclamation issued with storms expected to impact Tahoe into next week

Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to certain private nonprofit organizations in Placer and Nevada counties.
Bill Rozak/Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — After a break from inclement weather on Friday, the Sierra is going to be pounded with storms for several days starting this weekend and Placer County has issued an emergency proclamation in advance.

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.”

Placer County followed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency proclamation on Wednesday with one of their own Thursday for the ongoing threat of winter storms.

A local emergency proclamation asserts continuing risk to life and property, and the response is beyond the capabilities of local resources. Placer’s proclamation requests state and federal assistance. 

The county said the storm series over the next several days will likely exhaust local resources during an extended response, requiring additional state resources. Placer’s Emergency Operations Center was activated Wednesday morning to help coordinate a countywide response. 

“We are tremendously grateful to our roads crews and first responder partners for working around the clock throughout the storm to support our residents,” said Placer County Director of Emergency Services and County Executive Officer Jane Christenson. “And we thank our residents for doing their part to prepare for the impacts responsibly. This proclamation is an important step to make sure that we have access to all additional resources that Placer County may need to continue to protect lives and property.” 

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 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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