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Winter Storm Brings Rain, Snow To Sierra

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The Sierra Nevada snowpack was 113 percent of average statewide in January, the best snowpack in the month since 2011.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The National Weather Service in Sacramento forecasts significant snowfall over the northern Sierra Nevada Friday and Saturday.

The storm is expected to bring mostly rain in the Sierra Friday evening, with the snow level near 8,000 feet.

The National Weather Service says sustained winds of 93 mph were recorded near the Mount Rose Ski Resort southwest of Reno Friday, with gusts to 135 mph shortly after 11 a.m.


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NWS Meteorologist Michelle Mead says the rain won't reduce existing snowpack.

"Keep in mind that snow that is up there, it does have some wiggle room - it will act like a sponge and it'll soak in some of that rain so it's not like its [snow] going to instantly melt," says Mead. "The ski resorts are still going to have plenty of snow."  

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Mead says the snow level drops Saturday into Sunday, which could also make for hazardous mountain driving conditions.

"We'll see those snow levels crashing down to about 4,000 feet with another surge of moisture, so we're going to have a nice fluffy snow on top of that, " Mead says. "And as long as we can kind of keep this warm-cold, warm-cold going we're going to be in good shape."

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Mead says several warm storms, one after the other, would melt the snowpack, which is needed for spring and summer water supply. She says so far this winter, that hasn't happened.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Saturday for the Lake Tahoe area, where 1 to 3 feet of snow is forecast in the highest elevations and up to a half-foot at lake level.


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