US weather forecast: Almost 200 inches of snow to blanket Sierra Nevada in blizzard lasting DAYS

US weather forecast: Almost 200 inches of snow to blanket Sierra Nevada in blizzard lasting DAYS

Footage posted to social media showed some of the snow which has already hit California

James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 01/03/2024

- 21:27

‘The time to hunker down is upon us’, the National Weather Service said

A “treacherous” days-long blizzard which could bring up to 10 feet of snow and extreme winds is set to hammer California’s Sierra Nevada this weekend, with officials warning of deadly travel conditions across the state.

The snowstorm is set to close major roads throughout the region’s mountain passes and may cut off communities for extended periods, meteorologists said.

It’s set to be one of the largest whiteouts the Sierra Nevada has ever experienced – outranking February 2023’s major storm.

Yosemite National Park officials ordered all visitors to leave yesterday evening, with the area set to stay shut until Sunday afternoon.

NWS weather map of California

The National Weather Service said travel is "*HIGHLY* discouraged" across affected areas

National Weather Service

Schools across Placer County have been shut for snow days, with blizzard warnings in place and 80mph winds forecast for the area.

The Weather Prediction Center said: “There is a high chance of substantial, long-lasting, disruptions to daily life in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.”

Weather officials have stressed the risk of travelling while the blizzard is in full force, with the Donner Pass, Interstate 80 and segments of I-5 between Northern California and Southern Oregon set to shut as a precaution.

Warnings were issued to motorists planning on travelling over the weekend about the risks of being stranded in the storm – the freezing temperatures expected as the blizzard rolls through mean those stuck outside may face life-threatening conditions.

Ski lift in whiteout

Ski resorts are bracing for up to 15 feet of snow, with Palisades Tahoe showing whiteouts at the top of ski lifts

Palisades Tahoe

The National Weather Service said: “Sierra travel will be treacherous through the weekend, with a period of life-threatening blizzard conditions Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.”

The service continued: “We have been saying all week that the time to hunker down is upon us.”

Those in isolated locations have been told to prepare for power outages which could take up to weeks to clear.

Safety experts warned that people in hard-to-reach areas would need to stock up on food and ensure all heat sources are in working order – but noted the need to ventilate spaces with fires or furnaces to ward off the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Weather map and blizzard photos

Forecasts from Europe's ECMWF and videos on social media showed the extent of the blizzards

ECMWF/Palisades Tahoe/X

Ski resorts across the region are bracing for up to 15 feet of snow, which could see drifts reaching several storeys in height – which could account for the snowfall deficit plaguing winter sports areas this season.

Some resorts in Lake Tahoe are closing, with Ski Heavenly and Mount Rose Ski Tahoe shutting yesterday night, while Diamond Ski Resort at Incline Village Lake Tahoe cancelling events already.

Despite the snow deficit, reservoirs across the state are beating out historical averages – and the latest snowfall is set to top up water reserves even further, AccuWeather reported.

Southern California will escape the worst of the blizzard – though some light dustings of snow will be expected on the area’s highest peaks – but forecasters say the storm won’t affect regions across the passes.

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