A winter storm packing powerful winds, heavy rain and several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada closed mountain highways, downed trees and prompted flood watches and avalanche warnings from the coast of Northern California to Lake Tahoe on Saturday. A powerful storm system will move eastward over the next few days, forecasters said.
More than 250 miles of the Sierra were under a winter storm warning from north of Reno to south of Yosemite National Park until Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Up to 4 feet of snow is expected by the end of the week in the upper elevations around Lake Tahoe, and up to 6 feet in remote parts of the Sierra to the north and south.
The National Weather Service said in a statement that the storm’s impacts will be widespread from north to south, with several winter weather advisories in effect. Snowfall totals will range from 12 to 24 inches in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Basin and California, the weather service said, with the Sierra Nevada seeing “heavy snowfall.”
A 70-mile stretch of eastbound US Interstate 80 was closed from Colfax, California to the Nevada state line “due to zero visibility,” transportation officials said. Chains were required on the rest of I-80 in the hills from Reno toward Sacramento.
A portion of California Highway 89 is also closed between Tahoe City, California and South Lake Tahoe due to heavy snow, the Highway Patrol said.
The U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche warning for the backcountry in the mountains west of Lake Tahoe, where it said “several feet of fresh snow and strong winds will cause dangerous avalanche conditions.”
Winds of 50 mph sent trees crashing into homes in Sonoma County on Saturday and were expected to reach 100 mph over the Sierra ridgetops early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Up to 2 inches of rain was forecast over the weekend in the Bay Area from San Francisco to the Sierra Crest, and up to 5 inches in Cross Valley northeast of Sacramento.
The weather service issued a flood warning Saturday as inches of rain fell on wildfires south of Monterey and burn scars south of the Big Bang.
More than 30,000 customers were without power in the Sacramento area at one point Saturday morning, but it was restored to all but a few hundred by late in the day. The drivers and passengers of five cars trapped between downed power lines escaped unhurt, the Sacramento Bee reported.
San Francisco Bay Area officials reported power outages and fallen trees, some of which damaged cars and homes. In Monte Rio, a small town along the Russian River in Sonoma County, firefightersTrees were downed by 50 mph winds.
CBS San Francisco A large redwood tree fell at Golden Gate Park, forcing a change of race course at the National Club Cross County Championships.
In the Sierra, about 10 inches of snow fell Saturday afternoon at Mammoth Mountain ski resort south of Yosemite, where more than 10 feet of snow has been recorded since early November.
“Every week, it seems like another big storm rolls in,” said resort spokeswoman Lauren Burke.
Heavy rain is expected in parts of Southern California on Sunday. Up to 6 inches of rain is possible in the foothills of Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service.
According to the weather service, the system will become a “large-scale and significant storm early next week” with heavy snow, rain and severe weather across the central and southern US. Snow is expected to spread over the Central Rockies and Arizona mountains Sunday, with totals of 6 to 12 inches expected through early Monday morning.
The Weather Channel’s meteorologist Dr. Greg Postel described it as “a very impactful system from coast to coast.”
Parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas are expected to see severe weather on Tuesday, the Post said. The storm front could also bring tornadoes to the southern United States, Postel added.
“Essentially, very bad weather is moving across the south, while a blizzard over the northern plains,” Postel said.
NWS Weather Forecast Center He said “Blizzard conditions” are possible for parts of South Dakota on Tuesday and Wednesday, and “travel may be impossible.”
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