Storm watch upgraded to warning; 2-4 feet of snow possible at Lake Tahoe |

Storm watch upgraded to warning; 2-4 feet of snow possible at Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff report

Lake level at Tahoe could see 2-4 feet of snow this weekend, while the high country could see as much as 6 feet of snow.

That’s according to the latest update from the National Weather Service in Reno, which has upgraded its storm watch to a winter storm warning.

The warning takes effect at 4 p.m. today and expires at 10 p.m. Monday.

Heavy snow and gusty winds are expected during that time, particularly on Sunday when winds could be as strong as 50 mph. Gusts on the Sierra ridge could reach 100 mph.

“Periods of blizzard conditions will also likely be a problem in the Sierra during this time, so travel will be dangerous especially Sunday night into Monday morning,” the weather service warns.

The storms could dump 2-4 feet of snow at lake level and anywhere from 3-6 feet of snow above 7,000 feet. Precipitation is expected to arrive Friday evening and will likely start as rain at lake level.

Snow levels, according to the service, will start near 6,500-7,000 feet Friday evening before plummeting down to 5,500 feet thanks to a cold front Saturday morning.

The heaviest snow is expected Saturday.

Along with the storm warning, the Sierra Avalanche Center has issued an avalanche warning for the region extending from 10 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Tuesday. During that time, periods of high avalanche danger will likely occur.

Travel in the backcountry is not recommended while the warning is in effect.

“Large destructive avalanches could occur,” the warning cautions.

The weather service warns that the conditions will make travel difficult at times and could cause power outages.

“Avoid travel if possible, you could be stuck in your vehicle for many hours,” the weather service warns. “If you must travel, prepare for long delays and carry an emergency kit with extra food, water and clothing. If you stay home, have a backup plan in case of power outages.”

The storms follow a manual snow measurement Thursday that found the Sierra snowpack near normal following a storm-filled January.

Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.