Nevada County sees snow day

Update Tuesday morning:

Nevada County woke to a snow day Tuesday morning, along with local chain controls, power outages and school closures.

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District announced all schools were closed and all school activities were cancelled in a Facebook post.

For a list of chain controls, please see Chain controls for Tuesday, Dec. 14

Snow in Truckee Monday.
Photo by Staff Writer Elizabeth White
Litton Trail early Tuesday morning.
Submitted by Jeff Rogers

Initially Posted:

Storm systems will bring snow to the west and east ends of Nevada County, forecasters say.

The National Weather Service predicted that once Monday’s storm system runs its course, Grass Valley will have received over 3 inches of rain and Truckee will have received 3 feet of snow. According to Meteorologist Sierra Littlefield, a subsequent storm system — smaller and colder — is anticipated to arrive in Nevada County Wednesday night, along with another inch and a half of precipitation to the western end of the region.

Littlefield said snow hit heavy last night, dropping down below 4,000 feet on the western side of Nevada County.

“We’ll see some snow in the foothills,” Littlefield said. “It will start in west county and work its way east.”

Littlefield said the weather service expects 2 to 5 feet of snow above 4,000 feet, and possibly over 6 feet around Donner Pass. As the storm wraps up, residents and travelers may see snow accumulate as low as 2,000 feet.

According to the weather service, travelers in the area should expect major delays, chain closures and possible road closures through tonight.

As of 3:30 p.m. Monday, Littlefield reported that Nevada City had received approximately 2 of the 3 inches of rain expected.

Littlefield said the range of precipitation varies greatly depending on where one’s home or workplace is situated in Nevada County’s micro-climates. By the time the Nevada County Airport reported a quarter-inch of rain, for instance, other measurements taken along the region’s ridges near Lava Cap Road indicate 3 and 4 inches of rain have fallen.


Littlefield said this amount of precipitation this time of year is not unprecedented, but not common.

“It usually rains up to 4 inches of rain per month this time of year, so to have that amount in the span of days was worthy of note,” Littlefield said.

“The highest record county precipitation day spanned between 5 and 7 inches in 1915, so we didn’t break any records, but 3.2 inches is a good amount,” she added.

Littlefield said snow will fall at an even lower elevation with the storm system set to arrive Wednesday into Thursday.

“Precipitation chances decrease with colder air,” Littlefield said. “Thursday we’re expecting an even lower snow level.”

Littlefield said the second storm system of the week will bring some snow showers to the Grass Valley area, and another 12 to 18 inches of snow to Donner Pass.

“We’re not expecting a ton,” Littlefield said. “The next system is not as strong, but it will be cooler.”

Littlefield said Wednesday’s system should bring about 1.5 inches of rain to the region.

“By Thursday morning precipitation should taper off,” Littlefield said. “It will be pretty cool.”

Littlefield said today’s temperature in Grass Valley will peak at 38, before dropping into the 20s during Wednesday’s morning hours.

Strong winds will accompany the storm, causing potential power outages.

Opening day for Northstar Resort was Sunday, but Littlefield said one should expect difficult driving conditions to endure until Thursday morning.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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