A series of storms set to arrive Saturday will bring snow to the Sierra Nevada and gusty winds and rain to Reno, according to the National Weather Service.
The storms will be another late season boost to the Tahoe-area snowpack, which since March has recovered from a dismal 48 percent of normal to more than 70 percent.
But accompanying winds gusting from 35 to 50 miles-per-hour on valley floors could complicate matters for people working in temporary, tent-like shelters deployed to help accommodate an expected surge in people suffering from symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
“Normally that is not a big deal for us,” Reno-based National Weather Service forecaster Zach Tolby said of forecast winds.
However, he said it could be a concern for people working to create or maintain temporary structures throughout the region.
“We are a little bit more concerned with the impacts we could see added on,” Tolby said.
The coming storms also give added heft to warnings for people to remain at home in an effort to slow the spread of the virus pandemic.
Not only does staying at home reduce the likelihood of contact with other people which can lead to virus transmission, it reduces the likelihood of encountering trouble that could require first responders, tow truck drivers or law enforcement officers to come out.
Snow in the Sierra combined with the added risk of the virus makes traveling hazardous not just to people who decide to ignore warnings, but to entire communities along their routes.
“Even a small car accident takes people to respond and takes away already strained resources,” Tolby said.
Timing of storms
The storms are expected to arrive in two waves. The first wave should arrive Saturday and bring with it gusty wind and snow and rain Saturday morning before quickly exiting the region.
The second, stronger, wave is expected to arrive Sunday and bring periods of white out conditions in the mountains and wind gusts from 35 to 50 miles per hour on valley floors and as high as 90 miles per hour at the Sierra Crest.
Tolby said the snow level could fall to 5,500 feet and accumulation could be from six to 12 inches in mid-elevation locations such as Truckee and Lake Tahoe and one to two feet in the higher reaches of the Sierra.
The unstable weather is expected to linger to mid-week.
“Precipitation potential is a bit uncertain in western Nevada, but snow in the Sierra is a good bet,” the forecast stated. “Showers and wind in the Sierra may continue for much of the weekend, as there isn`t a distinct break in between the two storms.”
Benjamin Spillman covers the outdoors and environment in Northern Nevada, from backcountry skiing in the Sierra to the latest from Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.
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