Anyone hoping for fresh Christmas-day snow in Carson City this year may be disappointed.
"As far as Christmas goes, it looks like there's going to be a bit of a ridge in place," said Jessica Kielhorn, spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Reno. "It should be mostly sunny."
But there should be plenty of new snow in the higher elevations and even in Carson City over the days leading up to the holiday.
"There's a series of three waves moving in," Kielhorn said. "The first one for this area is coming in (today). They will continue into late Sunday night, early Monday."
Today could see a mix of snow and rain, with an 80 percent chance of rain tonight. Wind gusts could reach 25 mph today and 30 mph tonight.
The greatest chance for snow, Kielhorn said, will be Saturday into Sunday, when three to seven inches is expected to fall.
An additional two to four inches could fall Sunday into Monday, which is expect to be partly sunny with a high near 34.
Christmas day is forecast to be mostly sunny with a high near 36.
While the forecast of up to five feet of snow in the Sierra over the weekend is welcome news to Lake Tahoe ski and tourism officials, residents and tourists are also reminded to be cautious.
The greater Tahoe/Truckee region is under a winter storm warning until 4 a.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service, as a strong low pressure system from the Pacific Northwest settles over the Sierra Nevada.
According to NWS, the highest accumulations will occur along and west of Highway 89, where up to five feet of snow is possible above 7,000 feet, and up to three feet is possible below 7,000 feet. In other areas, more than two feet of snow is expected above 7,000 feet, with one to two feet possible at lake level.
Significant early-season snowfall has already allowed Tahoe ski resorts to open most or all of their terrain, helping to erase memories of last year's dismal season and spurring travel to the area.
"It's looking very favorable now, and certainly the snowfall that will come in this week will be icing on the cake," Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said in discussing bookings on the North Shore so far this year.
Despite enthusiasm for what's shaping up to be a successful holiday season for businesses, the storm also is expected to bring 45 mph wind gusts at lake level - and 100 mph or greater gusts along the Sierra ridge.
If travel is a must, residents and visitors are encouraged to carry extra food, water and clothes in their vehicles, along with blankets and other emergency items. Further, according to local law enforcement, people should drive with snow tires and/or carry chains with them at all times - even if you have four-wheel drive.
Avalanche activity also is expected to spike during the storms, and backcountry activities are not advised.
• Tahoe Daily Tribune reporter Adam Jensen and Sierra Sun editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.