Wet, wintry storm this weekend; Active weather to last into new year

A storm advisory is in place until the new year.
Mike Peron/ Tahoe Daily Tribune

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Another major atmospheric river storm is set to hit the Lake Tahoe region this weekend that will bring multiple feet of high elevation snow, heavy rain and possible flooding.

The National Weather Service in Reno has issued a winter storm watch and also a flood watch for the greater Lake Tahoe region.

The storm advisory goes into effect at 10 p.m. Thursday and lasts through 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Sunday.

The system this weekend is similar to the one last weekend except, “this storm will have much more rain and much more higher elevation snow,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Johnston.

Up to 5 feet of Sierra cement is possible above 8,000 feet, with 1 to 3 feet above 7,000 feet and 1 to 3 inches below 6,500 feet, mainly Saturday night into early Sunday as snow levels drop.

Strongs winds will accompany the storm with gusts up to 45 mph and over 100 mph for Sierra ridges. Waves will reach up to 4 feet on the lake leading to hazardous conditions.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the service said. “The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute. Very strong winds could cause extensive tree damage. Strong winds and high waves may capsize small vessels.”

There is significant moisture associated with the storm expected to last into Sunday. Liquid totals in the Sierra could reach 5 to 7 inches over a 2-day period, with 2 to 4 inches in the foothills, and 1 to 2 inches across western Nevada.

The flood watch issued on Wednesday goes into effect at 7 a.m. Friday, Dec. 30, and lasts through 4 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1.

“Excessive runoff may result in flooding of mainstem rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations,” the advisory said. “Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Flooding is possible in urban areas and locations with poor drainage. Low water crossings may be flooded.”

The service said snow levels are expected to rise to 8,000-8,500 feet for around 24 hours during the heaviest precipitation. Snow levels then begin to fall Saturday afternoon bringing impacts to most Sierra passes by evening and to Lake Tahoe and foothill elevations by early Sunday morning. 

“With snow levels to valley floors by Sunday morning, any lingering showers will be snow and light accumulations in the valleys cannot be ruled out,” the service said. “The snow character will be a heavy and wet Sierra cement.”

Active weather will continue into the first week of 2023 with more storm systems possible next week.

The service said a break in storms is possible Tuesday but later that evening simulations are in good agreement that a stronger, colder system will impact the region through Thursday, Jan. 6.

“The door also remains open for another moderate-strong storm for the weekend of Jan. 7-8, the service said. “While the hydrologic impacts are still to be determined, widespread high-impact winter travel issues are looking very likely for the Sierra from midweek through next weekend with additional feet of new snowfall, and potential snow impacts also down to lower elevations at times. This certainly won’t be a repeat of the record dry January 2022.”

The service said the active weather will continue into the first week of 2023 with three more storm systems possible next week.

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