Rare blizzard warning issued for California – massive snow expected

A rare blizzard warning has been issued for the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Up to 5 feet of snow is expected to fall Wednesday night into Thursday as a strong cold core low pressure system pushes moisture inland from the Pacific Ocean.

National Weather Service forecasters in Reno said Tuesday as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow is now possible in the upper elevations around Tahoe Wednesday night into Thursday, with winds gusting up to 110 mph (177 kph) over the ridge tops.

They say dangerous and potentially life-threatening blizzard conditions are forecast at elevations above 7,000 feet (2,133 meters), with high avalanche danger throughout the region.

Between 8 and 18 inches (20 and 45 centimeters) of snow is expected at lake level at Tahoe. Up to 6 inches (15 cm) is forecast for the valley floors around Reno and Carson City.

The Sierra blizzard warning runs from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.

Heavy snow moves in Wednesday afternoon and mountain travel will be dangerous to near impossible into Thursday. Road closures of Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 50 are likely.

 

Advertisements

107 thoughts on “Rare blizzard warning issued for California – massive snow expected

        • I think it may be they do not bother calling it a blizzard if the conditions will only exist on the tops of the mountains.

          • Yes, I understand that.
            What I am saying is, those conditions may exist on high mountain peaks fairly regularly…it is very windy on top of the Sierra, and when it snows, it is often by the foot.
            lower down, at pass levels and below, not as often.
            Since no one lives on the peaks, I do not think they post blizzard warnings if that is where the conditions occur…only when they are where going to effect people.

          • There are routinely very high winds up high during storms. Mostly heavy winds will precede a storm then settle down as the precipitation starts. Not this time a apparently

        • Don, I think you need to refer to the NWS definition of a blizzard. What we may think of as a blizzard may only be a heavy snow event to the NWS.

        • Anthony is correct in his technical use of the word blizzard, because in the Sierra Nevadas, most snowfall is not accompanied by high winds (much less moderate winds), which are required so as to be categorized as blizzards.

      • Have we “named” this EXTREME storm yet ? It appears as though every storm in the Midwest and east coast gets … named … recently. Huh? Who/what is responsible calling a typical winter storm “Gia”? WTH?

        • The names are applied to scare us. “GIA” must be the seventh such storm this season, so we are to be alarmed at so many–it’s only mid-January, after all. The problem is that many of these storms result from the coming together of other storms, one or more of which may already have been named. What if Winter Storm Helen starts up in Iowa and moves east, and Winter Storm Ida starts as rain in the Gulf but moves up into the Appalachians, where it encounters cold air and starts to snow? The two storms will collide in Tennessee and North Carolina, at which point they will combine to form Winter Storm Helenida, which comes plowing right through Virginia and ends up dumping 24 inches of snow right here in Mechanicsville, 12 miles northeast of Richmond. Or must it be a newly-named storm, say Winter Storm Janice? Foolishness all the way down, just another propaganda tool to make us fear the weather, which is really nothing new, only more of the same but slightly different. Bah!

          • John M Ware write in part: “The names are applied to scare us. “GIA” must be the seventh such storm this season, so we are to be alarmed at so many […]”

            Here’s an idea. Since every time someone spits on the sidewalk, it’s given a name and called an extreme storm with extreme flooding, why don’t they start naming ‘normal’ days instead?

            The way things are now, it would take the better part of a year to get to “Normal Day Cheryl”, if we ever got past “Normal Day Bert” at all.

          • Super idea HR ! However … “Bert” … “Cheryl” … how “white” of you. How cisgendered of you … *giggle*

          • By personifying storms with names they takes on a religious quality. Rather than being seen as a product of impersonal physical processes, storms become wrathful gods with personhood.

        • In the last two decades or so, property insurers have added deductibles for damages that occur as the result of named storms. Such deductibles require the property owner to bear a larger burden of the damages.
          And then, voila, more named storms.

        • In 2012, The Weather Channel, in an effort to increase viewership ratings introduced the naming of winter storms. This is not followed by other channels or websites who believe it is a foolish tactic to scare the public. The Weather Channel has the sole repository of future names to be used and has the only criteria.

          https://www.nola.com/weather/index.ssf/2014/01/when_did_winter_storms_start_g.html
          https://weather.com/storms/winter/news/2018-10-01-winter-storm-names-2018-2019

          • We named our daughter “Katrina,” and she frequently commented on how she liked her name. After she reached adulthood, got her PhD, and was married, Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. She quickly became the recipient of many jokes and snide remarks. She took it all in good sport, but said that she was glad that she wasn’t a young teen in high school when that hurricane was named after her.

      • Makes sense. its not just the rate of snow fall. its mostly about the sustained winds

        1. Sustained wind or frequent gusts of 35mph or greater.

        2. Considerable falling and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to under a quarter mile.

        3. These conditions have to continue for at least three consecutive hours!

      • Blizzards are dime a dozen above 7000′ in the Sierra Nevada in winter in California, they are certainly not rare by any measure or rarity. Of course, whether the official people report them as blizzards is another matter.

    • Huge snow falls in Europe now western USA.
      It is worth checking if polar vortex has split up. If so blame coronal hole outburst some 7 or 8 weeks ago.
      Here is what I wrote at the time:
      vukcevic December 31, 2018 at 9:20 am
      The polar vortex extends from the tropopause at 8–11 km in altitude, to the stratopause at around 50–60 km in altitude.
      During strong solar activity passenger jets avoid flying polar route, since the Earth magnetic field funnels charge particles towards magnetic poles. The charge particles strongly ionise atmospheric gasses in the vortex. Atmospheric velocity of polar vortex is well in excess of 100km/h and often 2 or 3x that.
      Noting that the atmosphere of the polar vortex is ionised, basic laws of physics stipulate that movement of such gasses is under influence of the magnetic field present.
      Just few days ago there was a strong aurora associated with polar coronal hole (see recent WUWT). Downward cascade of charged particles would have strongly ionised polar vortex, and this state may persist for few weeks or even a month or so.
      When the charge is low the effect of earth’s field on the vortex is weak, the vortex is strong with jet stream more regular mainly restricted to high latitudes.
      With high charge the vortex is pulled away by the concentration of intensity in the earth’s MF, eventually splitting it up into two distinct but much weaker entities.
      as in this type of often seen image: http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/NH.gif
      or movie: https://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/36000/36972/npole_gmao_200901-02.mov
      Electrically charged polar vortex in The Northern Hemisphere is progressively spread out and weaken by effect of split magnetic field and eventually it is itself split after number of days or couple of weeks.
      There is a strong relationship between polar vortex and polar jet stream.
      When the polar vortex is strong, there is a single vortex with a jet stream that is “well constrained” near the polar front. When the northern vortex weakens, it separates into two vortices above Canada and Siberia in contrast the Antarctic vortex of the Southern Hemisphere is a single low pressure zone.
      When the polar vortex is strong, the mid-latitude Westerlies (winds at the surface level between 30° and 60° latitude from the west) increase in strength and are persistent. When the polar vortex is weak, high pressure zones of the mid latitudes may push poleward, moving the jet stream, and polar weather front equator-ward. The jet stream is seen to “buckle” and deviate south. This rapidly brings cold dry air into contact with the warm, moist air of the mid latitudes, resulting in a rapid and dramatic change of weather known as a “cold snap”.
      Simple physics.

  1. An Oldie but still a Goodie from 2000: “According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event. Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
    It’s a Classic of Climate.

      • It occupies my kids for days- gets them out of the house, and gets them plenty of exercise while I sit and drink some nice, relaxing Irish Coffee.

        I like snow 😀

      • It’s a good way to store water for the trout streams later in the year. After the trout are done with it, it flows into reservoirs where stored until needed in cities.

        And people get to play in and on it in the meantime.

        It gets used over and over again, throwing off billions of dollars worth of recreation, food, industrial production, etc.

        At least in Colorado it is how things work.

      • When snow melts, it usually melts slowly, which gives the moisture plenty of time to soak into the soil. Unlike rain which falls fast and mostly runs off.

      • Besidfes the “snow days” I loved the blizzards. My family would make donuts and hot cocoa, watch TV, read. Then after. Drifts up to the rooftops, sledding. snow tunnels!

        I grew up in Cheyenne WY. Blizzards were and are a two times a year or more occurrence there.

    • Snowfall in East Anglia is indeed an uncommon event. Also in Houston. The rest of the world where it normally falls – no significant change.

    • Yes, and then when we started to have winters with HEAVY snowfall, the tune quickly changed to “Heavier snowfall is ‘consistent with’ global warming.” IOW, global warming (aka “climate change”) is the cause of everything happening outside your window (but only if it is somehow deemed “bad” weather) – which is how you know your BS meter should be spiked.

    • Yes in the middle of an eighteen year period with no significant snow falls. So for children growing up in London from 1990 winter snowfall was indeed a rare event. He also said “Heavy snow will return occasionally but when it does we will be unprepared. We’re really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time”, which of course it did when there finally was a significant snow fall after eighteen years. So yes Viner made a very accurate prediction about what would happen, what’s your problem with that?

      • Except Viner wasn’t referring to London, but ‘British children ‘ and said it would happen in a few short years.

        • Viner did not say ‘British children’, also ‘winter snow fall’ had already become a rare event. In the article prior to his quote it pointed out that in the south of england snow and sleet fell for an average of 0.7 days per winter compared with the previous 3.7 days. It also pointed out that the last substantial snowfall in London had been in 1991 (9 years earlier). Considering that it was another 9 years before the next one that certainly meets my definition of a ‘rare event’, and it was always already happening and a further nine years certainly meets the ‘few years’ criterion.

    • Given the quality of our current education system, children aren’t going to know what bull$hit is!

  2. “Mom, is there much more global warming coming?
    “Yes I think so dear, why?”
    “I wan’t to build a global warming Al Gore in the back yard, out of all this white stuff”.
    “That will be nice”
    “Do you think he will look better with a cigar or a carrot”?
    ” Oh, perhaps a cigar, and why not give him a hockey stick to hold….”

  3. well if that melts into lake mead?
    that should shut a few up
    good for ag, but being saved again doesnt make city dwellers appreciate being frugal with water

    Melbourne in Aus is at 60% for the time of yr and drought over most areas thats damned good
    now?
    theyre going to start the mothballed desal plant thats costing an arm n a leg just in maintenance mode
    there goes the water rates bills again!

  4. My “Cold Curse” on the East is still working, but the best is yet to come. Brrrr!

    https://weather.com/maps/ustemperaturemap

    Happy New Year! It’s going to be a cold one!

    Fully ~85% of global primary energy is from fossil fuels, unchanged in decades – and essential for the survival of you and your family.
    _______________________________

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/11/17/will-the-snowiest-decade-continue/#comment-2521702

    Fair warning: I’m calling down another very hard winter on the US Northeast, extending up into Canada.

    The reason I’m doing this is that you deserve it. You continue to bleat about global warming, in a world that is about to get colder.

    You continue to blather on about climate change and the need to eliminate fossil fuels – do that tomorrow and most of you will be dead within a month or two.

    Fully 85% of global primary energy is fossil fuels and that number has not changed significantly in decades. Fossil fuel energy provides almost everything you need to survive in this complex world. It IS that simple!

    So enjoy the bitter cold and snow this winter, good people, and maybe you will actually learn something.

    Cold kills far more people then heat in the world today, probably about 2 million excess winter deaths per year.

    Bundle up!

  5. I think we need a tracking device fitted to “Big Al” so when something like this happens we know immediately if it’s the Gore effect or just weather.
    Hope those affected by the fires earlier in the year are OK with good shelter and heating.

    James Bull

  6. “A future warmer world will almost certainly feature a decline in fresh water from the Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack. Now a new study by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) that analyzed the headwater regions of California’s 10 major reservoirs, representing nearly half of the state’s surface storage, found they could see on average a 79 percent drop in peak snowpack water volume by 2100. ”
    https://phys.org/news/2018-12-sierra-snowpack-significantly-century.html

  7. It’s predicted that when this thing reaches New England on Sunday, it will dump a foot or two of snow in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Quite a storm.

  8. Is this the “new normal” the Climate Cluckers keep crowing about? Or is it “just weather”? Hard to keep track of the narrative.

  9. Europe last week with its 100 year snow storm, now California and northern U.S. this weekend, and Jordan and Israel this week. Must be climate change.

    • John Shotsky: It already exists, in a bay by the city. Simply put all “consensus” “scientists” inside the walls of Alcatraz, and we will prevail “against Global Warming.” Without the high priests of the church of AGW, the religion ceases to exist and the followers will have to find some other scare story.

  10. This is exactly what California needs where the water supply situation is concerned.

    Filling up reservoirs at this time of year is a very good thing.

    Much of the snow at lower levels will melt quickly. Temporarily annoying, but not going to change California in any meaningful way other than for a couple of days.

    • Snow level pretty high with this storm so that snow will be around for quite a while. Fortunately next week will be dry. There’ll be lots of power outages and downed trees and car accidents.

  11. Living in the high desert we pray for snow at Mass, preferably in the higher elevations, as it is our water supply, as someone noted above.

    • Good grief, ren! They were in a car – they didn’t have the sense to drive away?

      Too stupid to live . . . .

  12. Yearly snowfall is highly variable…we might get a couple years with almost no snow, followed by a year with 600″. Within the year, snowfall is highly variable: one or two storms will account for the majority of snowfall.

    Averages don’t tell you much in the Sierra.

    • Here is how I know the “green” leftists are uneducated, brainwashed, ignorant, fools … they are convinced that “variable” cannot be “normal”. This native Californian, having lived through several drought cycles followed by deluge years, has personally witnessed the normality of variability. Add to that personal experience my native-born Californian; parents, grandparents, and immigrant great grandparents experience with normally-variable CA weather and climate … and I am not as STUPID as a millennial leftist who just moved here from Boston to work for Fackebook.

  13. Got a video this morning from my grandson plowing snow in the Sierras with a grader. Says he loves the snow. Send more!

  14. Drivers,
    Put a small box of “essentials” in your auto.
    Some of the things:
    . . water and other drinks;
    . . food such as mixed nuts, energy bars, sealed candy;
    . . boots, gloves, coat (multiples if more people);
    . . medicines, wipes, first aid kit (upgrade from the basic $3.99 one)

    There are many, repeat many, reports of people being delayed (or causing the delay) that do not have anything of use in their car.
    A use an apple box, and in addition to the above stuff, I carry a complete change of clothes. Cardboard box

    • Maybe add a torch with spare batteries.
      Perhaps also a radio, again with batteries.
      A shovel/snow-shovel – keep your engine clear.
      And a quilt/blanket.
      And, if in an EV, a charged phone and Mr. Musk’s phone number – he can send a rocket to lift you free of the global warming white-stuff. [Mods – this last is strongly /SARC. f course.]

      Auto

  15. I am in California fleeing Syracuse’s lake effect snow and was taken aback at the car rental place in Sacramento this morning where people were renting cars to go up to the mountains. They were upgrading to four wheel drive to be “safe”. Based on many years in the snowbelt the correct response to this forecast is to not go there until the storm is over. The worst case scenario is sharing the road with an inexperienced driver who does not realize that four wheel drive does not help you stop.

  16. Remember the storm where the pioneers were caught at Donner Pass?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donner_Party

    I have a very short list of novels that have been absolute favorites ever since I first read them. George R. Stewart’s 1941 novel Storm,, which I read when I was in high-school and have re-read at least a couple of times per decade ever since, is at or near the top.

    He gives us the (fictional) “biography” of a massive winter storm that overtakes the California and in particular the High Sierra, from the time it is merely a low in the Pacific. He gives us the details of its birth, growth, and maturation, and how it affects the lives of various humans (and a couple of other critters) over its lifespan.

    And the stage is set and the final curtain falls … in Phoenix.

    And yes, Mr. Caiazza , the subject of chains (no 4-wheel drive in 1941) does come up. Also of Easterners who think Buffalo’s snow.

    And the stage is set and the final curtain falls … in Phoenix.

    A page-turner for sure, and no sloppy soap-opera stuff either. And the storm, “Maria” — “please pronounce her name as ‘Mariah,'” he asks us, with the long i — is throughout the focus and the star of the book.

    Not to be missed!

    https://www.amazon.com/Storm-George-Rippey-Stewart/dp/B0007DPSPC/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

    • I spent the winter of 1970/71 at Tahoe City on the north end of lake Tahoe. The winter snows came in nice and early, then there was a twelve foot drop in 3 days in the middle of December. Around 2 weeks later of steady snowfall the area was hit with 6 feet in one day. The snow that winter equalled the level of snow faced by the Donner Party. It was amazing to experience what nature can accomplich in such a short time.

      • I was in Salt Lake City around the early 90s at Christmas and the northeast part of the city got 2 feet in 2 days and Park City got over 80 inches (we went there to ski). Amazingly, giant end-loaders kept the road to Park City open.

  17. I got 6 inches new snow overnight in Reno proper. Squaw Valley ski resort got 29 new inches of snow at 8000 ft ASL in 24 hours ending 6:00 am PST Wed. 16 Jan. That was just the opening salvo, the bigger impulse is hitting the Sierra now. According to USDA NRCS currently ~100% of normal for this date snowpack water equivalence in the Sierra Nevada and Tahoe Basin. In the next 36 hours, the snowpack will probably improve to 130% of normal.

  18. Here is something for coastal residents to take into consideration. There is a winddriven high seas area heading right at the California coast line which will impact the coast approximately SF in the south to southern Oregon in the north. Eureka looks like ground zero for the center of the high seas. …https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/ocean/primary/waves/overlay=significant_wave_height/orthographic=-128.04,36.41,672/loc=-133.799,38.194

    There was an even higher high seas area of sea around 3 weeks ago around the same spot which peaked around 55 feet in height. A crab fishing crew was lost as those seas moved closer to the coast.

  19. Heavy rain here in Paso Robles, CA right now (12:21 AM). We’re ahead of the 1942-2019 average rainfall to date. The storm is headed toward the Sierra Nevada’s. All part of the “permanent drought” Jerry Brown and his minions told us about three years ago.

  20. As of midnight Mammoth Mountain has 13″ of snow and recorded a gust of 130 mph at the top of mountain at 11,053′.

    While the Sierra frequently get heavy snow and high winds it usually doesn’t impact cities and highways. The weather service doesn’t issue blizzard warnings for the tops of mountains.

  21. Raining pretty good out here in the Mojave Desert. About 1 inch since midnight! Lake Rabbit Ranch (our version of Lake Manly) is fully formed, surrounding our house. Unfortunately it’s pretty warm, and probably melting all the snow in our local South Sierra below 6000 feet. Wawona, straight west from Mammoth, shows 4 inches.

  22. Based on snow reports in from Mammoth, Squaw, Kirkwood and Carson Pass, far from this being a life threatening blizzard, the past 24 hrs saw only 2ft of snow, no more than the previous 24hrs.

    So Mammoth had 3-4ft over 48hrs, not 5ft in 24hrs, ditto Kirkwood and Squaw. Carson Pass had 13 inches new snow.

    Perhaps a rare station will find more?

    This just shows how those who scaremonger must follow up with an after-the-event factual report…..

      • Mammoth had a wind gust of 163mph early this morning. Been over 100mph much of the day today. Snowfall was definitely less than forecast or at least at the very low end. Another foot has fallen today.

Comments are closed.