Nearly 2 feet of snow in Sierra; new storm coming Saturday

RENO, Nev. — Nearly 2 feet (60 centimetres) of snow has fallen in the Sierra and more is in the forecast through the Thanksgiving, but forecasters said Wednesday the worst of the weather appears to have passed, at least for now.

A winter storm warning continues through 4 p.m. Thursday in the Lake Tahoe area, where up to 20 inches (50 cm) of snow was reported early Wednesday at area ski resorts and 18 inches (45 cm) at Mount Rose near Reno. Farther south, 22 inches (55 cm) of snow fell at Mammoth Mountain west of the California-Nevada line.

The National Weather Service has dropped the threat of blizzard conditions from the region’s immediate forecast, but another big storm is expected to move into the Reno-Tahoe area on Saturday.

In eastern Nevada, a winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 p.m. Friday for parts of Esmeralda, Nye and White Pine counties along the Utah line, where up to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow is possible and the weather service warns travel could be “very difficult to impossible.”

In the south, a winter storm warning extends through 4 a.m. Saturday in the upper elevations of the Mojave Desert and Death Valley National Park. Weather service forecasters in Las Vegas said snowfall from the “very cold and potent storm” would begin in mostly areas of central and southern Nevada late Wednesday before intensifying Thursday and early Friday.

Chain controls were in effect Wednesday on most Sierra passes. Commercial trucks were prohibited in the westbound lanes, but U.S. Interstate 80 was open to passenger vehicles with chains and four-while drive vehicles with snow tires all the way from Reno to Sacramento.

Up to another 10 inches (25 cm) of snow is possible at lake level at Tahoe with up to 18 inches (45 cm) at the highest elevations, the service said.

A winter weather advisory was set to expire at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Reno and Carson City areas, where up to 4 inches (10 cm) of snow has fallen and another couple of inches is possible.

“An important reminder is that even with bands of lighter snow, the potential for roads becoming icy and hazardous will continue, especially from sunset to sunrise as temperatures of most paved services will be well below freezing,” the service said.

Scott Sonner, The Associated Press