Sierra, northern Nevada, brace for potent storm |

Sierra, northern Nevada, brace for potent storm

RENO, Nev. (AP) ” The Sierra and northern Nevada are bracing for a powerful winter storm that forecasters say will bring several feet of snow to the mountains and up to a foot in the valleys of western Nevada.

A rare blizzard warning has been issued for the Sierra beginning at 4 a.m. Friday through Saturday morning. A winter storm watch has been posted for the Reno-Carson City area.

“It’s pretty unusual for us to issue a blizzard warning,” said Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. “We haven’t had one in a number of years.”

The first of three storm waves was being felt along the Pacific Coast with heavy rain early Thursday, and was predicted to arrive in the Sierra overnight.

Forecasters said the heaviest snow was expected Friday night through Saturday morning, but snow was expected to fall throughout the weekend.

The weather service said accumulations of 3-5 feet were possible above 7,000 feet by Saturday morning, with higher totals in some areas. At Lake Tahoe, 1-2 feet was predicted.

Around Reno and western Nevada, forecasters said the storm would begin as rain but change to snow Friday night. Up to 8 inches was expected in the valleys, with a foot or more possible in the foothill regions.

The weather service on Thursday also warned of potentially damaging winds ahead of the system that, combined with heavy snow, will reduce visibility to near zero and make travel treacherous across the region.

In the Sierra, winds will increase to 80-100 mph, with gusts to near 145 mph, late Thursday and continue through Friday afternoon, the weather service said.

In the valleys of western Nevada, forecasters said winds by Friday will be in the 25-45 mph range, with gusts to 65 mph. Some wind-prone areas could see gusts topping 80 mph.

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