Updated 6:13 p.m.
Scott Sonner, Associated Press
(AP) — A fierce winter storm packing winds in excess of 100 mph and predicted to bring as much as 8 feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada barreled into the West Coast on Monday, toppling trucks, triggering power outages and temporarily closing the major highway near Reno.
In the Sierra along the California-Nevada line, a winter storm warning remained in effect for the Lake Tahoe area until 4 a.m. Thursday. The forecast calls for winds gusting in excess of 140 mph over ridgetops.
An impressive visible satellite perspective of the systems impacting the region through mid-week. The Atmospheric River continues to steer abundant tropical moisture toward the NorCal coast. Stay tuned for updates as the storm impacts the region. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/lzC9s9kEZw— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) February 25, 2019
In the Sacramento area, Corey Miller with the National Weather Service warned that the storm could lead to flooding.
"We're definitely going to see rises even on our mainstream rivers and we could see some creek flooding. Also, street flooding will be a concern across the area,” he said. "As for the water year we're very good and after this system we'll be well above average for the water year. In that aspect everything's looking really good."
Sacramento County opened four sandbag locations as of 6 p.m. Monday:
- Orangevale Community Center, 6826 Hazel Ave in Orangevale
- Westside Park, 6555 West 2nd St. in Rio Linda
- Wilton Fire Station, 10661 Alta Mesa Road in Wilton
- County Branch Center, 3847 Branch Center Road in Sacramento
"This storm may go blowing by us really fast and we don't really see any problems or it could stall and drop more water than expected," said Matt Robinson with Sacramento County.
Winds gusting to 110 mph were recorded at the summit of the Squaw Valley ski resort near Lake Tahoe, and up to 84 mph in the valleys along the Sierra's eastern front where Interstate 580 was closed off and on between Reno and Carson City.
Two trucks overturned on I-580 and another on nearby U.S. 395 in the Washoe Valley, where one non-life threatening injury was reported.
For the safety of all, we have 33 roadside signs stretching from central Carson City to south Reno prohibiting high-profile vehicles during high winds. If your vehicle is nine feet or taller, heed these signs, reroute your vehicle when prohibited and help keep everyone safe. https://t.co/YL6ykJUSUy— Nevada DOT (@nevadadot) February 25, 2019
At one point as many as 6,000 NV Energy customers were without power in the Reno-Sparks area, but power had been restored to about half by Monday afternoon.
The service says winds could gust as high as 140 mph over the ridgetops above Lake Tahoe, where as much as 8 feet of snow is possible over the next three days.
"Periods of white-out conditions are likely," the service said. "Very strong winds could cause extensive tree damage."
Two to 4 feet of snow is expected over the three days, with 4 to 8 feet possible above elevations of 7,000 feet , including where U.S. Interstate 80 crosses the top of the Sierra at Donner Pass southwest of Truckee, California.
Extremely heavy mountain snowfall is expected through Thursday. Mountain travel is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED! If you must travel, be prepared for hazardous travel conditions, significant delays, chain controls, & possible road closures. Bring winter clothes & extra food & water. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/ic5ZwyFMZ2— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) February 25, 2019
UPDATE: R-2 EB/WB from Drum to Donner Lake Interchange https://t.co/HiOmLm9fpL— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) February 25, 2019
The latest storm will be a "marathon rather than a sprint," the service said, in terms of accumulation with several wet feet of new snow expected over top of a drier layer of powdery snow through early Thursday.
"Travel will be tough and possibly impossible at times through the Sierra with no clear break in snowfall once this begins," the service said.
A high wind warning remained in effect for most of the Sierra's eastern front until 10 p.m. Monday, including Reno-Sparks, Virginia City, Gardnerville and Susanville, California. Sustained winds of 25 mph to 40 mph were expected with gusts up to 65 mph and potentially in excess of 80 mph on highways north and south of Reno.
A winter weather advisory goes into effect Monday evening along the California-Nevada line from 100 miles south of Tahoe near Mammoth Lakes, California to 100 miles north of Reno near Gerlach.
The service said the new snow load coupled with excepted winds may result in unstable slope conditions in the Sierra with the potential for avalanches and "rooflanches."
"Do not linger under eaves of buildings that have a large quantity of snow on its roof," the service warned.
Capital Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero and Bob Moffitt contributed to this report.
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