Largest storm of the season brings heavy snow and strong winds to Sierra Nevada with gusts up to 145 mph

A fierce blizzard is currently in progress in the Sierra Nevada and is expected to continue for the next two days, unleashing unyielding snowfall. At the highest peaks in the Sierra, wind gusts have already reached an impressive 145 mph, resulting in hazardous white-out conditions.

This snowstorm is the most significant one of the season for the Sierra, as blizzard warnings are currently in effect for the Sierra Nevada and certain areas of eastern Nevada.

The snowfall is currently intense, with some regions expected to receive a significant amount of snow ranging from five to 10 feet. In certain localized areas, the snowfall may reach up to 12 feet.

Travel becomes life-threatening and impossible as snow falls at a rate of two to four inches per hour. Additionally, sections of the heavily-used Interstate 80 are expected to be closed for several days.

The California Highway Patrol in Truckee, California, issued a statement on Friday strongly advising against travel due to the worsening conditions. They reported that the situation over Donner Summit had significantly deteriorated on Thursday night, resulting in a chaotic traffic situation. As a result, trucks are currently subject to maximum restrictions.

Adding to the wintry mix, the winds are roaring with a reported gust of 145 mph on the high peaks west of Lake Tahoe. This weekend, there will be strong winds gusting between 50 to 100 mph in the Sierra chain and other elevated areas and mountains across California and into Utah.

The snowfall and wind will gradually decrease by Sunday.

The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab, located in Soda Springs, California, announced on Friday that it recorded a substantial snowfall of 19.1 inches in the past 24 hours.

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According to the lab, the storm conditions have worsened this morning, with strong winds and limited visibility. They predict that the next 24 hours will be the most intense period of the storm.

A backcountry avalanche watch is currently in effect until 5 p.m. local time on Sunday for the central Sierra Nevada Mountains, specifically spanning from Yuba Pass to Ebbetts Pass. This includes the Greater Lake Tahoe area, where there is a high to extreme risk of avalanches, with the expectation of large to very large avalanches occurring.

Visitors to Yosemite National Park were urged to leave by Friday afternoon as potentially hazardous conditions were expected to persist until at least noon on Sunday.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has strategically positioned fire personnel and equipment in various counties to ensure a prompt response in case of any emergencies caused by the winter storm.

According to Governor Joe Lombardo, it is crucial for Nevada families to be prepared as the upcoming storm is anticipated to bring hazardous temperatures and conditions to the state.

The state’s department of transportation, energy, and emergency management are actively collaborating to enhance preventive measures and recovery efforts, as stated by him.

The weather forced several school districts to close on Friday, including Washoe County School District and Storey County Schools in Northern Nevada, as well as Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Lake Tahoe Unified School District in California.

March is a month known for its frequent occurrence of large snowstorms. In the Sierra region, the snowfall reaches its highest peak on April 1, just before the start of the melt season.

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Kathryn Prociv, a senior meteorologist and producer for NBC News, brings her expertise to the field.

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