Lake Tahoe weather: Heavy rain, mudslides, 150 mph winds, 1-3 feet of snow all possible
TRUCKEE, Calif. — February’s wet and wild start will continue Thursday and into the weekend, with flood warnings and winter storm warnings both on tap.
According to the National Weather Service in Reno, a flood warning is in effect from 6:45 a.m. Thursday through 9:15 a.m. Saturday for lower elevation areas in Placer, Nevada, Washoe and El Dorado counties, as well as other counties.
“Two-day rainfall totals between 5 and 9 inches have been measured in the northern Sierra, bringing river and stream rises across the area,” according to the NWS-Reno warning posted Thursday morning. “High river and stream flows in the Sierra, such as the upper portions of the Feather River system, are already occurring and will continue through Saturday.”
According to the weather service, while minor flooding is likely to continue at certain parts across the Tahoe-Truckee region, the larger threats for flooding are in the Sierra Foothills and Washoe and Carson valleys, among other lower-elevation areas.
“Widespread moderate to heavy rain will return to northern California today through this evening, tapering to mountain snow showers tonight through Friday,” according to NWS. “Despite precipitation ending, high river and stream flows will continue through early Saturday.”
Aside from flooding, mudslides are also possible, especially for mountain roads and burn scars.
Slides have led to the closure of both Interstate 80 east of Truckee near the Nevada state line overnight Wednesday and U.S. Highway 50 near South Lake Tahoe Wednesday afternoon, according to authorities.
Further, flooding forced officials to close the Mt. Rose Highway on Wednesday at Tahoe Meadows due to unsafe conditions for motorists.
Sandbags are available for residents throughout the Tahoe-Truckee region; click here to check on locations near you.
Specifically for Tahoe-Truckee, a flood watch (which is less severe than a warning) is in effect from 10 a.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday.
Meanwhile, NWS has issued a winter storm warning for the Tahoe-Truckee region from 10 a.m. Thursday through 1 a.m. Saturday.
“High elevation snow will develop this morning and continue through this evening,” according to NWS. “A second wave of snowfall and lower snow levels is expected Friday afternoon and evening.”
Snow levels are forecast to be at 8,000 to 8,500 feet Thursday before falling to 6,000 to 6,500 feet by Friday afternoon.
In all, 1 to 2 feet of snow above 8,000 feet is possible by Friday night, with up to 3 feet at the Sierra crest. Six to 12 inches of snow is possible between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, with the chance for 2 to 5 inches of snow at lake level — after rain turns to snow Friday.
Further, NWS forecasts wind gusts at lake level of 60 to 70 mph (and possible Lake Tahoe wave heights of 3 to 7 feet), and up to 150 mph or more across Sierra ridges.