Blizzard out west this week, sloppy wintry mix in the east

Traffic being held due to bad weather on I-80 in Truckee, California on Sunday, February 3, 2019. (Photo: California Department of Transportation)

Blizzard conditions with whipping winds and several feet of snow delayed drivers through the Sierras over the weekend. Chain controls were posted by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on many routes, and drivers had traction issues on I-80 through Lake Tahoe, Truckee (cover photo), and Donner Lake, just to name a few spots. There were occasional breaks in the snowfall last night, but Mother Nature will deal another big round of snow in the next couple of days.

Blizzard Keeps On Trucking

  Snow reports from the National Weather Service - Reno, Nevada. Storm totals are from 8:00 p.m. February 1 to 8:00 a.m. February 4, 2019.
Snow reports from the National Weather Service – Reno, Nevada. Storm totals are from 8:00 p.m. February 1 to 8:00 a.m. February 4, 2019.

Up to six feet of snow piled up at the Mammoth Mountain Ski area from 8:00 p.m. Friday until 8:00 a.m. today (Monday), according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Reno, Nevada. Three to five feet fell in other areas. The storm will dump several feet of additional snow there and in other high elevations of the Sierras from today through Tuesday, with strong winds and whiteout conditions above 5,000 feet today and tonight. Significant snow is also possible in the foothills.

Some of the heaviest snow will fall along the I-80 corridor over Donner Pass, as well as US-50 over Echo Summit. Look for two to five feet of fresh snow in these areas with wind gusts near 50 mph.

The greater Lake Tahoe Area – including Incline Village, South Lake Tahoe, Stateline and Truckee – could receive two to four feet of snow at lake level, with three to six feet above 7,000 feet in elevation. Wind gusts in these areas could also reach 50 mph, approaching 100 mph over the tallest ridge tops. Snow drifts could be deeper than 10 feet.

Blizzard conditions won’t let up In Mono County, either, which includes Mammoth Lakes. Additional snow accumulations of 24 to 48 inches are possible along US-395, with as much as three to six feet west of US-395 above 7,000 feet. Snow drifts here could also be deeper than 10 feet, with winds gusting up to 100 mph over ridges.

Many areas of northern California will get slammed by the storm, too, including Shasta County. Eight to 12 inches of new snow could fall there today around Shasta Lake, as well as along the I-5 corridor north of Redding. Some spots around Lassen Volcanic National Park may see two to three feet of new snow; eastern Plumas County (Portola and Susanville) will see up to 12 inches on valley floors, 10 to 20 inches above 5,000 feet, and up to three feet of new snow west of US-395. Gusty winds will lead to blowing snow and reduced visibility in all of these areas.

In the northwestern corner of the state, two to six inches of fresh snow will be common, but there could be pockets of up to 10 inches. This includes Berry Summit, Oregon Mountain and Buckhorn Summit along CA-299; Collier Tunnel on US-199; and many areas along
CA-36. There’s even a potential for some light accumulations along US-101 near Prairie Creek Summit, not far from the coast, about 50 miles north of Eureka. Light snow amounts could also cover parts of US-101 in Mendocino County; and in Siskiyou County (CA-3 and CA-96) as much as eight inches could fall above 2,000 feet, with up to three inches below 2,000 feet.

In the northeastern corner of the state, from Cedarville to Fort Bidwell and into northwestern Nevada, look for five to 10 inches of snow with 50-mph wind gusts. Speaking of Nevada, the greater Reno and Carson City areas may see snow totals of six to 12 inches, with up to 24 inches in elevations above 5,000 feet.

Other areas of California like Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks, in addition to Aspendell and Port Whitney, could get buried in up to four feet of snow by the time the storm fades Tuesday evening.

Moving goods through the Sierras and the Reno area will continue to be risky for the next couple of days. Truckers – be prepared for more delays due to very slick roads, poor visibility and possible road closures because of whiteout conditions or wind damage. The latest NWS winter weather alerts can be found on this interactive map.

Late-week Winter Storm

Another winter storm could hammer parts of the Midwest, Mountain Prairie and Northeast from Wednesday through Friday. Heavy snow and strong winds, as well as some areas of freezing rain and sleet, may affecting major routes like I-90, I-94 and I-95. Several large metropolitan cities like Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis-Saint Paul may experience travel delays on the ground and in the air. Details on this system will be fine-tuned over the couple of days; be sure to look for updates on the FreightWaves website soon.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.