Snowstorms to hammer Sierra this weekend
Winter driving tips
• Carry tire chains when traveling over passes
• Allow extra time
• Increase distance for brakin
• Carry extra food, water and blankets
A trio of storms expected Friday through Sunday could drop several feet of fresh snow in the Sierra in what forecasters expect will be among the most powerful storm events thus far this season.
“It’s looking like we’re going to get pounded,” said Officer Pete Mann of the California Highway Patrol Office in Truckee, where he and colleagues are poised to deal with a weekend full of potential problems on the passes.
“It’s going to be interesting travel, certainly,” said Jessica Kielhorn of the National Weather Service office in Reno.
Winds will start picking up today and are expected to be strong through the weekend, gusting up to 55 mph in the valleys and up to 100 mph over the Sierra crest.
Snow accumulations of a few inches are possible in the Reno-Sparks area, with the best chances for snow Saturday and Sunday, forecasters said. The weather should start clearing Monday with mostly sunny conditions expected Christmas Day.
It’s a busy time for air travel, with some 14,000 passengers expected to be flying out or arriving on Friday, said Brian Kulpin, spokesman for Reno-Tahoe International Airport. A “big push” of skiers is expected to use the airport between Christmas and New Year’s, Kulpin said.
High winds are the biggest problem when it comes to affecting flights in Reno but winds associated with this set of storms shouldn’t cause any signficant problems for air travel, according to the weather service.
“As anyone in this area knows, the weather changes from moment to moment,” Kulpin said. “We’re totally prepared for winter weather to keep this airport open. We’ll do our best to kieep our aircraft coming and going.”
The real problems will come for folks trying to cross the Sierra in cars, be it over Donner Pass and Interstate 80, Echo Pass and U.S. 50, or any other high-elevation route.
The storms will be cold, with strong winds and lots of light, fluffy snow. It’s that combination that can produce zero visibility and a truly dangerous situation. ...
Snow likely in the Sierra Friday through the weekend.
A strong low pressure system will approach the Pacific Northwest and will remain stationary through the weekend. A strong jet moving around the base of the low will pick up deep Pacific moisture bringing periods of moderate to heavy snow Friday through Sunday night.
Dangerous winter conditions will impact holiday travel and outdoor activities. Across the Sierra, periods of heavy snow and strong winds could lead to Whiteout conditions and lengthy Travel Delays. Travelers need to consider an alternate route to avoid the Sierra passes this weekend.
Winter Storm Warning in effect from 4 am Friday to 10 pm PST Sunday.
The National Weather Service in Reno has issued a Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow and gusty winds, which is in effect from 4 am Friday to 10 pm PST Sunday. The Winter Storm Watch is no longer in effect.
- Timing: periods of moderate to heavy snow will occur late tonight through Sunday evening.
- Snow accumulations: 1 to 3 feet west of Highway 395 with up to 12 inches east of Highway 395 above 4500 feet.
- The highest totals will occur along Highway 89 and near Yuba and Fredonyer passes where 2 to 5 feet is likely.
- A mix of rain and snow below 4500 feet will cause little accumulation Friday and Saturday, with several inches possible Sunday.
- Winds: south 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.
- Snow levels: 4000 to 5000 feet Friday, falling to all Valley floors Saturday.
- Impacts: periods of heavy snow and strong winds will lead to Whiteout conditions and lengthy Travel Delays. Travelers need to consider a secondary route to avoid mountain passes this weekend. Back country activities are not advised.
Conditions will deteriorate late Friday and early Saturday.
Travel is discouraged over the passes this weekend. Carry extra food, water and clothes in your car if you must travel. Check our website at weather.gov/reno for updates on this situation.
Excerpted from ready.gov Before:
- Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- More about:
- What to do before winter storms and extreme cold.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
- Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
- Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
- More about:
- What to do during winter storms and extreme cold.
What is a Winter Storm Warning?
A winter weather event including 1) snow, ice, or sleet meeting or exceeding locally defined 12 and/or 24 hour warning criteria; or 2) a combination of snow, ice, or sleet and blowing snow with at least one of the precipitation elements meeting or exceeding locally defined 12 and/or 24 hour warning criteria. Source: nws.noaa.gov