Travel could become impossible’: Powerful winter storm dumps snow in Sierra Nevada; flood watches triggered in California

The higher terrain of California’s Sierra Nevada and Siskiyous is expected to be blasted with whiteout conditions through Sunday, with blistering winds and heavy snow that could measure 3 to 6 feet by the time the storm is done.

A powerful winter storm crashing across the West on Sunday slammed parts of Southern California with more than 7 inches of rain and promised to snarl travel with feet of snow in some areas from the mountains of the Golden State through the Midwest.

The storm will continue across the West while “developing into a possible blizzard” in coming days, the National Weather Service warned. The system was forecast to sweep across a wide swath of the nation from Colorado to Minnesota on Monday through Wednesday, with driving snow, high winds and freezing rain.

“Heavy snow will bring major impacts to many areas across the country,” the weather service warned. “Travel could become impossible.”

A stretch of California Highway 89 was closed because of heavy snow in the Lake Tahoe area, the highway patrol said. Parts of the Sierra Nevada could see 5 feet of snow and whiteout conditions Sunday and Monday, the weather service said. Parts of I-80 and other roads also saw periods of closure.

As the storm rolls east, AccuWeather said parts of I-90 and I-94, the major highways of the Upper Midwest, could be forced to close as the snow piles higher.

An atmospheric “bowling ball” could bring snow and a slight chance of thunderstorms to southwest California on Sunday, the weather service reported. The bowling ball is predicted to move across the northwest and southeast areas of the region Sunday night into early Monday.

Heavy mountain snow reported in Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada

The weather service reported heavy mountain snow in northeast California, the Greater Lake Tahoe region, western Nevada, and the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Since Friday, the Greater Lake Tahoe region has seen up to 48 inches of snow, the weather service said. The weather service also warned of dangerous mountain travel conditions that will last until early Monday with 1 to 2 feet of additional snow possible in the Sierra Nevada above 4,500 feet.

Nearly 22,000 customers were without power around Lake Tahoe Sunday night, according to Liberty Utilities’ outage map. The map showed that the estimated restoration time would be by 12 p.m. PST Monday. A winter storm warning remains in effect for the area and freezing to below-freezing temperatures are expected overnight.

Southern California deluge; South could see flooding, tornadoes

In Southern California, parts of Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties were under siege from more than 7 inches of rain, the weather service reported. More than 4 inches swamped some areas of Los Angeles County, and localized rainfall rates of up to an inch an hour were drenching parts of southwestern California, with total rainfall reaching three inches in some areas.

Flash flooding and debris flow were a concern, particularly in and near recent areas burned by wildfires in the drought-stricken region.

The first band of heavy rain exited Los Angeles County shortly before 9 a.m. PST Sunday but showers are expected through the day and overnight, according to the weather service. Scattered showers are also expected through Sunday in the Bay Area with a small chance of hail.

San Luis Obispo County saw “very heavy downpours” with strong wind gusts up to 80 mph Saturday night, the weather service reported. Multiple power lines fell Saturday night in the county causing all phone and 911 lines to be down, the Grover Beach Police Department said.

Nearly 30,000 customers were without power Saturday night, according to PG&E. By Sunday afternoon, most of the power had been restored in the county but more than 7,500 customers were still without electricity, according to PG&E’s outage center map.

The National Weather Service was warning of possible severe weather Tuesday and Wednesday in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Severe thunderstorms will be capable of producing tornadoes, damaging winds and hail, the weather service said.

Freezing temperatures predicted in north California, northwest Nevada

Near to below freezing overnight low temperatures are predicted for the week in northern California and northwest Nevada as the winter storm moves out of those areas, the weather service reported.

A freeze watch was issued by the weather service, lasting from late Monday through Tuesday morning. Sub-freezing temperatures will also be possible late Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

‘Major’ snowstorm forecast from Colorado to Minnesota

A strong low-pressure system forecast to form over Colorado and Kansas on Monday will pull moist air northward from the Gulf of Mexico, combining it with extremely cold air from the polar regions in Canada, AccuWeather meteorologist Thomas Geiger explained.

” A major snowstorm is in the cards from Colorado to Minnesota into midweek,” he said.

The worst of the storm could hit late Tuesday into Wednesday, with snowfall rates as high as several inches per hour in some locations. Wind gusts could reach 60 mph, Geiger said.

“Blizzard conditions possible (for) portions of northeast Colorado late Monday night – Tuesday night,” the weather service’s Boulder officer tweeted. “Significant travel impacts, whiteouts, road closures & harsh livestock conditions will be possible.”

Snow will continue to push eastward as the storm strengthens. Parts of Minnesota could see snow with an icy mix at times. Geiger warned that a 10th of an inch of ice can hazardous.


The higher terrain of California’s Sierra Nevada and Siskiyous is expected to be blasted with whiteout conditions through Sunday, with blistering winds and heavy snow that could measure 3 to 6 feet by the time the storm is done.

“Some snow not only for the Sierra, the Rockies, the Wasatch Range but also right into the San Jacinto Mountains (east of Los Angeles), the San Gabriel Mountains (north of Los Angeles) as well,” FOX Weather meteorologist Craig Herrera said. “And we have had some windy conditions. In fact, the top of Palisades Tahoe, reporting some wind gusts over 100 mph – close to that in Mammouth Mountain as well.”

Winter Storm Warnings stretch across the entire Sierra while also covering the Siskiyous through Sunday in the north, with warnings lingering into Monday farther south along the Sierra.

The FOX Forecast Center said the storm is tapping into some subtropical moisture that will allow for intense precipitation and heavy snowfall. Traveling over the Sierra Nevada will be difficult, if not impossible at times.

Heavy snow is expected to accumulate along Siskiyous, with blizzard conditions bringing 10 to 22 inches of snow and 45-plus-mph winds, even to Interstate 5.

As of Sunday morning, Mount Shasta in North California had already picked up 21 inches of snow in the last 24 hours.

Leave a Comment