The Period of ‘safe Travel Window’ in Sierra Nevada Has Ended as a Significant Snowstorm Begins

Credits: San Diego Union-Tribune

Snowfall commenced in California’s Sierra Nevada on Thursday, and meteorologists anticipated the precipitation to persist throughout the weekend. A winter storm threatened the mountains with a substantial accumulation of up to 10 feet of snow.

The National Weather Service in Reno, Nevada, covering parts of California that include Lake Tahoe and Donner Pass, cautioned that the safe travel window in the Sierra was closing, advising people to hunker down where they were.

The risk of avalanches at all elevations in the eastern Sierra was anticipated to escalate to a high level on Friday. The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center issued an alert, mentioning that increasing snowfall and strong to extreme southwest winds would create dense slabs at all elevations.

Snowstorm Alert (Credits: CNN)

Conditions were expected to deteriorate overnight, leading to a weekend of heightened avalanche danger. The center declared an avalanche watch until 7 a.m. Sunday.

Donner Pass, known for the historic expedition that became stranded by snow in the 1840s, could potentially receive between 5 and 10 feet of snow by the conclusion of the storm on Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento reported that conditions along Interstate 80 were deteriorating overnight due to increasing snowfall and winds, strongly discouraging travel. A blizzard warning was in effect for the area, including Lake Tahoe communities, until 10 a.m. Sunday.

Blizzard conditions were deemed especially likely from Friday evening to Saturday morning, with the possibility of whiteout conditions and zero visibility.

South Lake Tahoe, home to approximately 21,000 residents, took precautions by using an anti-icing treatment on roads and advising against travel.

The city’s social media updates urged residents to prepare for heavy snow and discouraged outsiders from traveling to the Lake Tahoe region during the weekend.

South Lake Tahoe police echoed the warnings, advising locals to stock up on supplies and be prepared. For those outside the area, travel to the Lake Tahoe region was not recommended over the weekend. The police department emphasized the importance of heeding these warnings for safety.

Blizzard warnings on Thursday night extended across a section of eastern California along the Nevada state line, encompassing areas from the small community of Bieber south to Mammoth Lakes and beyond.

More than 555,000 people were estimated to be affected, including parts of eastern Nevada, which also faced blizzard warnings, according to the weather service.

The National Parks Service recommended that visitors evacuate Yosemite National Park by Friday afternoon and avoid returning until Sunday due to the severe weather conditions.

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