Dangerous mountain travel conditions in the Sierra Nevada range are forecast through this weekend, leading to treacherous journeys and hazardous whiteout conditions. With blowing winds and heavy snow likely to affect roads, highways, and mountain passes throughout the region, travelers are advised to finish their travel plans by 1 pm Friday.
The National Weather Service has issued an advisory warning that dangerous conditions prevalent in the Lake Tahoe high country should be taken seriously. The combination of gusty winds and snowfall could reduce visibility at times. This could create near-zero visibility or “whiteout” conditions with limited visibility due to snow drifts or heavy snowfall. These conditions could cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and put them in hazardous situations.
Additionally, the NWS is expecting significant accumulations of snow above 7,000 ft., with up to 2 feet possible at some locations by Tuesday morning. Many roads may become impassable as a result of deep snowdrifts obscured by falling snow. This will increase the risk for vehicles attempting to traverse these routes Monday night into Tuesday morning. These include Interstate 80 from Donner Lake down to Truckee, along with Highways 89 & 267 over Brockway Summit from Truckee down toward Tahoe City. Additionally, travel is highly discouraged on Highway 88 around Carson Pass as well as Highway 108 heading over Sonora Pass into Mono County through Monday night..
The NWS also warns those heading out on skis or other recreational activities that avalanche danger could become significant in areas where several inches of new precipitation falls quickly over existing large accumulations of snowpack already present on mountain slopes higher than 7500 ft. Heavy winds also impact avalanche danger and can create areas where collapses are more likely due to increased loading on cornices or slabs of weakly-bonded wind-drifted powder near ridge tops.
Snowfall rates could be quite intense late Sunday afternoon onward through Monday afternoon. Travel plans involving mountain passes or ski resort destinations in the Sierra Nevada range involve dangerous traveling conditions prevailing through Monday night into Tuesday morning.
⚠️Dangerous mountain travel conditions are forecast tomorrow – Monday. If you have travel plans, it will be best to finish your travel by 1 pm tomorrow. Travel is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED through Monday night! Blowing winds & heavy snow will cause whiteout conditions. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/hPn5lfIHDX
— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) January 12, 2023