Lake Tahoe weather: Flooding in Truckee, 1-3 feet of snow at high elevations possible by Thursday night

Kevin MacMillan

TRUCKEE, Calif. — High-elevation snowfall and lower-elevation flooding is expected in the North Tahoe-Truckee area today and Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

A winter storm warning will be in effect for the greater Truckee-Tahoe region starting at 10 a.m. Thursday through 4 a.m. Friday above 7,000 feet.

In all, 1 to 3 feet of snow is forecast for elevations above 8,000 feet, with 6 to 12 inches of snow possible between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, according to NWS.

Snow levels will be at 8,000 feet or above into Thursday evening, according to the storm warning, and falling to 7,500 and 7,000 feet around midnight. Snow levels should fall to valley floors by early Friday morning.

Winds figure to be  major factor with this storm, as NWS is calling for southwest winds at 25 to 35 mph at lake level, with gusts reaching 70 mph. Meanwhile, Sierra ridge gusts could approach 125 mph.

“Heavy wet snow and strong winds will create hazardous whiteout conditions for the highest elevations, with visibility dropping to near zero and snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour at times,” according to NWS.

Then, there’s the rain.

A flood warning will be in effect for the Truckee region from Thursday morning through Friday evening, according to NWS.

“An atmospheric river will produce a period of intense precipitation on saturated soils with snow levels near and above 8,000 feet on Thursday,” according to the warning. “Significant runoff through creeks and streams will likely cause the Truckee River near Truckee to exceed flood stage by early Thursday evening.”

According to NWS, flood stage for the Truckee River in Truckee is 4.5 feet; as of 2:30 a.m. Thursday, the stage was 1.9 feet.

If the forecast holds up, the river will “rise above flood stage by Thursday evening and continue to rise to near 4.9 feet by late Thursday evening,” according to NWS. “The river will fall below flood stage by early Friday morning.”

Further, minor flooding may occur from Bear Creek in the Alpine Meadows area to Truckee; and the Truckee River Bike Path between River Ranch at Alpine Meadows Road to Tahoe City may be “flooded up to a foot deep.”

“Minor flooding of basements and yards (may occur in) some low-lying homes along the river,” according to NWS.

NWS officials urge residents and motorists to be alert for heavy rain upstream of your location, which could cause additional rapid rises on rivers and streams.

“Valuables should be moved away from areas subject to flooding,” according to NWS. “Never drive through flooded areas. Follow the directions of emergency officials.”

According to the Truckee Fire Protection District, sand bags will be available at 11473 Donner Pass Road (Station 92), along with the town of Truckee and U.S. Forest Service offices at 10811 Stockrest Springs Road.

“Don’t drive through areas that are flooded, and watch for downed trees and power lines from predicted high winds through (Friday),” according to Truckee Fire.

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