Blizzard Is Forecast to Bring ‘Life-Threatening’ Conditions to California


A rare warning for “life-threatening blizzard conditions” is in effect for the mountains of the Sierra, including Lake Tahoe, for a storm that could bring a three feet of snow or more from Thursday through Sunday, according to forecasters.

Blizzard warnings are reserved for the worst snow storms with whiteout conditions that could last hours or, in this case, days, with the weather likely making travel in the region treacherous. The National Weather Service in Reno, Nev., has only issued eight blizzard warnings since 2002. The last warning in the Tahoe area was almost exactly a year ago: Feb. 27, 2023.

During last year’s storm, two feet of snow fell in less than 24 hours, which, combined with earlier snows, made it challenging to distinguish houses from snow banks. Winds up to 50 miles per hour combined with the light snow made it difficult to see things only feet away.

Similar to the storm at the end of February last year, a storm off the Pacific Northwest coast is likely to create a favorable pattern to transport moisture from the Pacific to combine with a cold air mass and strong winds into the Sierra. That is likely to create additional days of snow, and possible whiteout conditions. There has been snow in the region this year, but not nearly as much as during last winter.

The snowpack in the Sierra, which provides 30 percent of the state’s water supply for the year, is only about 80 percent of what it should be by February 28. This storm could help the region catch up.

Following a brief break late Sunday, another storm is possible as early as Monday. Forecasters don’t believe that storm twill be as strong as this weekend’s storm, but they caution that it is worth watching.

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