Lake Tahoe weather: Avalanche warning in effect; 140 mph winds possible | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe weather: Avalanche warning in effect; 140 mph winds possible

Click here to read an updated weather story with details from Monday, Jan. 23.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m. Sunday:

With the biggest impacts of this latest January winter storm expected to occur Sunday, the National Weather Service has issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the greater Tahoe region.

The warning, for all Sierra elevations, will last until "at least Monday morning."

"Due to heavy snow, intense snowfall rates and gale force winds, human-triggered wind slab avalanches and storm slab avalanches will be very likely," according to NWS. "Some avalanches could be large, deep and destructive. Travel in or near avalanche terrain or in the runout zones of avalanches paths is not recommended."

On Saturday, avalanche alerts were issued for residents in the areas of Alpine Meadows in California and Crystal Bay near Incline Village.

Meanwhile, a winter storm warning remains in effect for the region until 4 a.m. Monday. As much as 3 to 4 feet of snow at higher elevations, and 2 to 3 feet near Mt. Rose, is possible.

Wind gusts of 140 mph at times across Sierra ridges, and 30-45 at lower elevations, are also possible Sunday.

Several Tahoe ski resorts are either closed or with limited operations Sunday due to the windy conditions.

Look for story updates and safety tips below:


UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. Saturday:

An avalanche warning has been issued for the Third Creek area of Incline Village, as well as Crystal Bay, according to a 2:51 p.m. Saturday news release from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.

"The weather forecast for the next 48 hours calls for increased snowfall intensity and strong winds in the region by this evening," according to the release. "If the storm materializes as predicted, we could see substantial rapid wind loading of new snow and slightly rising temperatures in the Crystal Bay and Third Creek areas.

"There could be enough loading in the start zones by (Sunday) for large natural or human triggered avalanches to be possible. Third Creek and the adjacent South Slope are not expected to produce avalanches that will affect houses or roads, but Crystal Bay homes and upper roads may be at risk by (Sunday) morning."

Residents in the Crystal Bay and Third Creek areas should exercise caution if accessing the slopes above their homes, officials said.

"Be prepared to stay indoors tomorrow through possibly Monday until this next storm system passes," according to the district.

Call 866-535-5654 to report non-emergency incidents such as down trees.

The original story from Saturday morning is below.


TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The Placer County Office of Emergency Services issued an emergency alert at 10 a.m. Saturday, encouraging a voluntary evacuation for residents of Alpine Meadows due to the risk of avalanche.

“The advisory is in effect for residents for all areas of the valley, and may become a mandatory evacuation if conditions worsen,” according to a county news release. “An already considerable avalanche danger throughout the Sierra is likely to increase in many places in eastern Placer County as Sunday's storm moves in.

“If residents choose not to evacuate, they are urged to closely monitor conditions and be prepared to evacuate quickly if they deteriorate.”

According to the Sierra Avalanche Center, avalanche danger is “considerable” Saturday as a major winter storm continues to dump heavy snow throughout the region and figures to intensify Saturday night and most of Sunday.

"Human triggered wind slab and storm avalanches are likely today. Natural avalanches are possible," according to the center's Saturday morning alert. "… Some large and destructive avalanches could occur. Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Carefully evaluate the snowpack and the terrain before committing to any slopes.

"As another strong winter storm impacts the region (Saturday night) through Monday morning, the avalanche danger will increase."

There have been several reports of slides and avalanches in the region the past few days, according to the center. As of Saturday morning, there have been no reports of injuries or lost skiers.

For updates on avalanche conditions, visit http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/.

According to a post Saturday morning from Tahoe Open Snow Forecaster Bryan Allegretto, Tahoe-area ski resorts picked up an additional 1-2 feet in the past 24 hours with the second storm, putting storm totals so far at 3-5 feet.

ARE YOU PREPARED?

The recent spate of winter storms has caused power outages, avalanches and plenty of other dangers across the region.

On Tuesday, Liberty Utilities spokesperson Kathy Carter said that Tahoe-Truckee customers should be prepared for power outages in the coming storms.

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District also issued a statement on Tuesday that including a warning about possible outages resulting from the coming storms, and urging customers to be prepared.

Placer County did the same, advising Sierra residents and businesses to monitor buildings, propane tanks and natural gas lines for signs of excessive loading due to heavy snow. Further, residents and businesses should check roof vents, chimneys and flues for blockages from to snow build-up.

The North Tahoe Fire Protection District announced in a press release on Tuesday that a warming center and cellphone charging station will be opened again over the weekend for residents without power at the Tahoe City Public Utility District office at 221 Fairway Dr. in Tahoe City.

Residents can visit http://placer.ca.gov/emergency/winterstorm to learn about sandbag locations, emergency tips and more from Placer County.

The town of Truckee also has a Storm Event Information Source website.

On the Nevada side, Incline Village/Crystal Bay residents can go to http://www.washoecounty.us/outreach for storm and other updates.

Also, Incline-Crystal Bay residents are encouraged to visit NV Energy's outage map website at http://www.nvenergy.com/outage to learn about outages, or call the 24-hour customer service line at 775-834-4444. You can also follow the company's posts on Twitter and Facebook.