Rain in the forecast through Thursday afternoon
February 13, 2019
The first of two storms to hit the Truckee-Tahoe area this week brought rain and snow to the Sierra Nevada, and is forecast to drop nearly 3 more inches of rain in Truckee through Thursday afternoon.
"It's a subtropical jet and right now it's setting up right over Mono County, just south of the Tahoe Basin," said Evan LaGuardia, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Office in Reno.
"Snow levels are climbing (today) so any precipitation that will fall for the rest of today into tomorrow will be all rain. We're looking at a pretty heavy rain event from the rest of today into tomorrow … as far as rain amounts, you could see just under 3 inches of rain. That's pretty significant."
The weather service has issued a winter storm warning for the greater Lake Tahoe area, lasting until 10 p.m. Thursday. Elevations below 7,000 feet are forecast to receive heavy rain during this time, and 6-10 inches of snow is expected at elevations between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. Above 8,000 feet, up to 5 feet of snow is forecast by late Thursday night.
Avalanche danger: High
The Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the area until 4 p.m. Thursday.
High avalanche danger exists in the region today, according to the center's daily forecast, which said large natural and human triggered avalanches are likely through the night.
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Rain on top of snow could also create dangerous roof-avalanches, according to the center, as roofs holding several feet of snow can suddenly unload.
+120 mph wind gusts recorded
As the storm moved into the area yesterday, several locations high in the Sierra recorded gusts of more than 120 mph. Squaw Summit reported a gust of 127 mph, while Alpine Meadows hit 122 mph. The highest recorded wind gust, according to the National Weather Service Office in Reno, was recorded at White Mountain Peak in Mono County at 136 mph. In Truckee, the airport said it had gusts as high as 51 mph.
The weather service said Truckee will likely see gusts of up to 60 mph today.
Though a mixture of snow and rain has been falling throughout the Sierra, the area’s ski resorts did report up to a half foot of new snow in the past 24 hours.
Boreal Mountain California said it picked up 6 inches of fresh snow. Northstar California Resort also gained 6 inches of snow since yesterday. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows reported 3 inches of fresh snow at Squaw's upper mountain, and 2 inches at Alpine's upper mountain. Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort had 2 inches of snow come down in the last 24 hours.
Chain controls are in place throughout the Sierra Nevada as of Wednesday morning.
Requirement 2 chain controls are in effect going over Donner Summit on Interstate 80, according to the California Department of Transportation. Requirement 2 controls are also in effect on Highway 267 between Northstar and Kings Beach.
Forecast: Rain followed by snow
Much of the Sierra will be hit with rain through Thursday afternoon, according to the weather service, but snow levels will begin to drop to valley floors as a cold front moves down from the north into the region later that night.
By Friday morning, Truckee could have a couple feet of fresh snow, according to LaGuardia, while valley floors, including Reno, could see a few inches of snowfall.
Snow will continue to accumulate Friday into Sunday, and could drop several feet at local ski resorts. Temperatures aren't expected to get above 30 degrees throughout the weekend.
The Truckee-Tahoe area should see a break from stormy weather beginning Monday, according to LaGuardia, and is forecast to be blustery and cold throughout next week.