According to the National Weather Service.
A Winter storm warning was issued for the major areas of Reno, Carson City and Carson Valley as well as Lyon and Storey counties from 5:00 p.m. Monday to 10:00 a.m. Tuesday. Snow has already started to form in the Sierra and around Lake Tahoe, with up to 8 feet possible by Tuesday in the higher elevations.
In valleys and at low elevations, National Weather Service forecasters indicate total snowfall amounts of 2 to 6 inches below 5,000 feet, 5 to 10 inches between 5,000 and 5,500 feet, and 10 to 20 inches above 5,500 feet, including the Virginia City Highlands. Locally heavier totals are possible east of Lake Tahoe across I-580 and US-395 south of the Mt. Rose Highway junction in Carson City.
Travel could become very difficult, with a sharp drop in snow cover and visibility probably between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. this evening. Hazardous conditions could impact tonight’s trip above 5,500 feet and will likely affect Tuesday morning’s trip for all areas. Winds will be gusty through Monday afternoon, particularly in the windy areas along the US-395 corridor. Travel restrictions for large vehicles are possible.
The weather service says engines that plan to travel Monday night through Tuesday should be prepared for long delays, especially during travel times. Check with NDOT for the latest snow tire or chain requirements before traveling.
Here is the update from the National Weather Service forecasters’ Monday morning weather discussion on what to expect in the coming days. For discussion updates go here.
A major winter storm with areas of strong winds, heavy snow in the Sierra and rains turning to snow for the lower elevations, Nevada remains on track until Tuesday. Long travel delays in the Sierra are expected with full road closures possible. Another colder winter storm is expected from late Wednesday through Thursday with additional impacts on travel.
In the short term, snow levels have fluctuated between 6,000 and 6,500 feet so far this morning, resulting in a mixture of slush and wet conditions around the Tahoe Basin, with snow-covered roads above of these altitudes. Further north in northeastern California, the snow level appears to be between 5,000 and 5,500 feet. Some improvement in the precipitation band will occur during the morning with the onset of more favorable altitude jet dynamics, which should help bring snow levels down to about 500 to 1,000 feet. .
Further south in Mono County, snow began to accumulate at Mammoth Mountain after 9 p.m. but an increase in coverage and intensity is also expected to occur over the next few hours.
Then for the remainder of the day it’s time to have moderate to heavy snow consistently in the Sierra (snowfall rate 1 to 2 “/ hour) usually near and above 6000 feet around Tahoe and above 6,500 feet for Mono County, and higher elevations in northeastern California. For western Nevada, readings have varied depending on the extent of overflow moisture , but our current overall analysis appears to favor more rain than not for the main urban corridor of I-580 / US-395.
Further south in Mineral-Sud counties of Lyon and Mono to the east, shade and strong winds aloft will result in strong gusts of downward wind from mid-late morning until tonight. See our latest Strong wind warning statement for more details on this potential for damaging wind, which will impact travel on the US-95 for those trying to get around the snow-covered roads of the Sierra.
The strongest forcing will come with the passage of the cold front in the late afternoon through northeastern AC and during the evening for the rest of the Sierra and western NV, moving towards the south of US-50 after midnight. Although indications vary in the timing of this front, the latest high resolution seems to indicate the most likely passage between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. from northwest to southeast.
Anyone passing through Reno, Carson City and Minden between these times could see a sharp drop in visibility and deteriorating road conditions with a heavy snow patch (with some lightning also possible), then snow continues overnight until early morning, also spreading into west-central Nevada.
Some improvement off Lake Tahoe could result in more localized snowfall south of Reno in the Washoe Valley, Carson City and Virginia City. We will be sending an updated winter storm warning / winter weather advisory this morning with updated snowfall forecast (similar amounts for most areas except slightly higher totals for valleys and the foothills of Reno, Carson). We will also include the West Central NV basin and range in the winter weather advisory, as the latest combined forecast shows a 55-60% chance of a 2 inch snowfall for Lovelock and Fallon.
For the Sierra, this improved snow band could result in snowfall of 3 “/ hour or more sometimes this evening until early Tuesday, combined with strong winds (gusts of 40 to 60 mph with 100 to 120 mph for Sierra exposed ridges) producing whiteout conditions and potential highway closures Avoid all travel to the Sierra and Tahoe areas this evening.
The liquid precipitation totals (including snowwater equivalent) for this storm are shown below, with higher localized amounts also possible. Some of this precipitation has already fallen, particularly over eastern California.
– Surprise Valley / Northwest-West Central NV: 0.50-1.00 “
– Towns of the far west NV / US-395 north to Susanville: 1.50-2.50 ”
– Foothills west of Reno-Carson / US-395 in Mono County: 2-4 “
– Tahoe / Truckee Basin, SW Lassen, E Plumas / Sierra counties: 3-6 “
– Sierra ridge from Yuba Pass south to Mono County: 4-8 ”
For the remainder of Tuesday, snow showers will diminish from north to south, with cool temperatures expected in all areas due to the fresh snow cover. Lows will be mostly in the numbers and teens, even with extensive cloud cover preventing ideal radiant cooling. Watch for icy places from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning.
Wednesday until the end of the week and beyond
A break in weather appears to be occurring early Wednesday, except for a few isolated to scattered snow showers over the Sierra. Attention then turns to another notable winter storm hitting the Sierra and western Nevada from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday. This storm will not be as intense compared to the current storm. However, this will bring another period of considerable snowfall to the Sierra and less snow to western Nevada.
Confidence in the forecast remains moderate with this system due to slight differences in snow levels and timing between ensemble solutions. We will discuss the impacts on our region in the following sections: (1) snow and (2) winds; then conclude with a discussion of the weather beyond Friday.
The GEFS, EC-ENS and CMC-ENS Ens differ slightly in the base position of the upper level trough as it crosses northern California Wednesday evening through Thursday morning. About 20% of the ensemble clusters (mainly EC-ENS) favor a warmer trajectory (the base of the trough is more towards the poles as it oscillates through northern Nevada). Even with this uncertainty, we are still moderately confident in the snow accumulation 1 to 2 feet in the Sierra, particularly above 7,000 feet.
In western Nevada, several inches of snow accumulate above 5,000 feet, with enough to cover valley bottoms. The heaviest snowfall will fall from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning in the Sierra and from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning for the low valleys of western Nevada. Anticipate the impacts of travel both for aviation (turbulence / LLWS / icing) and for the ground (in particular in the Sierra).
Winds will increase from Wednesday evening, peak after midnight through Thursday, and gradually decrease Thursday afternoon. Periods of gusts are expected with localized wind impacts mainly in areas prone to winds. Wind gusts in the lower valleys will vary from 30 to 40 mph with a moderate potential to see gusts to 50 mph in the Sierra. The Sierra ridges will see gusts greater than 100 mph. The impacts on aviation, leisure and large-scale vehicles are a sure bet.
Weather beyond Friday: An elevated ridge will form in the western US on Friday with possible northeast wind gusts along the Sierra Ridge, clear skies and slightly warmer temperatures. cold. At the start of next week and beyond, the block diagram continues to appear active. Above normal precipitation and slightly below normal temperatures are expected.