Lake Tahoe weather: 3 feet of snow possible by Friday at high elevations | NevadaAppeal.com

Lake Tahoe weather: 3 feet of snow possible by Friday at high elevations

Kevin MacMillan
kmacmillan@sierrasun.com

This weather graphic shows how the low pressure system from Alaska will eventually envelop the West by Friday, with heavy rain and snowfall predicted for the Sierra.

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — The forecast for this week's snowfall continues to hold steady, as the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Thursday and Friday.

One to 2 feet of snow is likely above 7,000 feet throughout the greater Truckee-Tahoe region, with up to 3 feet possible along the Sierra crest, according to NWS, which is calling for potential blizzard conditions in some areas.

Seven to 14 inches of snow is expected below 7,000 feet.

The storm warning is in effect from 1 p.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday. Snow is expected to develop late Wednesday night at high elevations, becoming stronger and dropping to lake level by Thursday afternoon.

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READ MORE: Snow levels are expected to drop as low as 5,000 feet by Thursday evening, according to the NWS winter storm warning.

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Winds between 25-40 mph — with gusts of up to 60 mph at lake level and 100 mph along Sierra ridge tops — are possible.

As is the case with most Sierra storms, conditions will make driving a challenge. Snow tire or chain restrictions will be in effect along most highways and passes, including Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 50, California highways 28, 89 and 267, and Nevada highways 28, 207 and 431.

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READ MORE: Accidents, traffic tickets, injuries: three ways to quickly freeze up personal finances. Practice these simple safe winter driving tips to avoid ruining your winter weekend.

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Should this week's storm pan out, it's likely several Tahoe-area ski resorts will have enough snow to operate daily, providing locals and the rush of holiday visitors coming for the Christmas and New Year's holidays plenty of terrain.

The storm has the potential to be the biggest to hit the Sierra in more than three years, which would be a welcome sight for ski resorts and businesses that have struggled through three very mild winters.

While the storm is expected to bring snow at Lake Tahoe and Truckee, as much as 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected in regional valleys, with up to 6 inches possible in the Sierra foothills, according to NWS. A flood watch is in effect through Friday evening for several Northern California counties, including Nevada County.

According to NWS, excessive runoff will cause elevated levels of small creeks and streams, and possibly flooding and pending in urban areas and along highways.

Areas with the most flooding potential include the south and middle forks of the American River, and the Rubicon River basins.

Online coverage:

The Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza will update this story if the forecast changes as the storm approaches, and will provide other online coverage during and after at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com. You can also follow the Sun/Bonanza Facebook page for updates.