It is dangerous to travel along the mountain road until Wednesday. Blizzard warnings will be posted over the next few days for the Sierra, including locations such as Lake Tahoe, Northeast California, Donner, and Mammoth Mountain. A blizzard warning is issued when sustained winds or frequent gusts reach 35 mph and visibility drops to less than a quarter mile for at least 3 hours. A heavy snow warning does not necessarily mean heavy snowfall, but in this case snowfall is expected, especially in mountainous areas. This is good news for snowpacks, but not good news for drivers. A Winter Storm Warning will also be posted in Truckee Meadows from 11 AM Monday to 4 AM Wednesday.
On your Monday morning commute, the valleys are dry but windy, so keep both hands behind the wheel. The amount of snow varies within Truckee Meadows, with the hills doubling his lowest elevation and approaching the airport.
Snow comes in waves. The first arrives on Monday afternoon and evening, the second on Tuesday. The second brings more snow than the first. The Wednesday morning commute is smooth, but the chances of snow falling throughout the day are slim. Low pressure is coming in from the northwest, hitting the Sierra most violently and spilling over into the valley as the front passes in the afternoon.
Snow will start falling along I-80 in Donner by 8am Monday morning, and in the valley at 11am. His second low in Taniuchi slips behind the first low on Tuesday, giving us another chance for snow. The trough itself departs late Wednesday. Spin in a storm is called vorticity. The area in front of the vorticity often has the highest potential for precipitation. A band of strong vorticity sits west of Tahoe each round, allowing heavy snow to fall on Tahoe.
You’ll want to jump into the snow shoveling Monday before more snow falls on Tuesday. Most of the snow in Truckee Meadows will fall early Tuesday morning. This will be a colder storm unlike the one that occurred on New Year’s Day. Cold storms produce light, fluffy snow as opposed to wet, heavy snow. Fluffy snow isn’t great for making snowmen, but it’s easy to pile up. Total snowfall ranges from 4 to 10 inches at the lowest elevations, including Reno Airport, to 4 to 6 feet in the high Sierras at elevations above 7000 feet. Hills and over 5,000 feet saw 7 to 15 inches of snow Monday through Wednesday.
Tahoe could be seen 2-3 feet on the surface of the lake. A few inches of snow on Monday and a few inches below 5,000 feet on Tuesday. This storm is not only impressive for the total snowfall, but also for the strong winds that reduce visibility.
The Center for Weather Prediction, a government agency, has classified this storm as extreme in the Sierra, so it’s not meant to be taken lightly. Trees can be damaged due to high winds, heavy snow on the hills, and the fact that our trees are already stressed. Or if you can get some errands done, that’s a good idea.
The long-term model continues to be active next week. Stay warm and stay safe. Follow her KTVN Angela Schilling on Facebook for the latest weather updates. You can also follow me on Angela Schilling’s Twitter and her Instagram.