Fast-moving storm brings foot of snow to the Sierra

Snow adds a smidge of white to spring foliage in Topaz Ranch Estates taken by John Flaherty.

Snow adds a smidge of white to spring foliage in Topaz Ranch Estates taken by John Flaherty.

A rare May snowstorm brought an additional foot of snow to Ebbetts Pass, according to the California Department of Transportation.

“Over the weekend our maintenance crews encountered up to 12 inches of fresh snow on Ebbetts Pass,” as the Woodfords work to clear Highway 4 in Alpine County made it to Kinney Reservoir.

The prospect of a winter storm prompted the postponement of the Holy Smoker Car Show in Gardnerville until May 18.

High winds arrived with the front on Saturday morning, with gusts approaching 50 mph.

According to the National Weather Service, Wild Oat Mountain in southern Douglas County had a 57 mph wind gust, while a gust in Jacks Valley recorded 52 mph on Saturday.

While the winds were scouring the lower elevations, conditions in the mountains deteriorated rapidly on Saturday afternoon. Chain controls started taking effect starting around 1:30 p.m. and then expanding to Kingsbury Grade and Highway 88.

Douglas County dispatchers reported two vehicles stuck on either side of Daggett Pass as flurries expanded to the foothills by 3:30 p.m.

The blockage essentially closed the Grade for a few hours late Saturday afternoon before deputies were able to get tow trucks and snowplows through to clear the vehicles and sand the roadway.

The intersection of highways 50 and 28 near Spooner Lake saw multiple reports of collisions with a man who was working on his tire chains reportedly receiving a broken leg around 4 p.m. after being struck by a vehicle.

A thin layer of Sierra cement fell along the base of the Carson Range and in southern Douglas County overnight, plastering trees on the windward side.

National Weather Service forecasters in Reno said the cold set a new record low temperature of 20 degrees early Monday, breaking the 49-year-old record of 23 degrees.

8:30 a.m. Sunday update

All three routes over the Sierra Nevada are open with chain controls as of 8 a.m. today.

A winter storm warning for the Sierra expired at 8 a.m., though the National Weather Service cautioned that mountain roads could continue to be slick.

Heavenly Valley snow telemetry indicated 10 inches of snow over the course of 12 hours between 1 p.m. Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday.

Forestdale Creek near Carson Pass recorded 18 inches of new snow over 14 hours.

5:40 a.m. Sunday 

Highway 88 is closed for avalanche control this morning after a sudden blast of cold air sent snow levels to valley floors on Saturday.

At 5 a.m., the California Department of Transportation said the highway is closed from 3.5 miles east of Silver Lake to Kirkwood and the Carson Spur.

CalTrans is advising motorists to use an alternate route, which included Highway 50 over Echo Summit, where chains or four-wheel drive with snow tires are required.

According to CalTrans, Interstate 80 is open to passenger vehicles with chains or four-wheel drive and snow tires.

Eastbound trucks are being screened at Applegate for maximum chains, while westbound is closed to all tractor-semitrailer combinations at the state line.

Kingsbury Grade essentially closed for a few hours late Saturday afternoon after vehicles slid out on the highway. Douglas County deputies were able to clear the road by Saturday evening. It is open this morning with chain controls, as is Highway 50.

There were multiple collision calls near Highway 50 and 28 on Saturday, including an instance where a person working on tire chains was struck by a vehicle around 4 p.m. and reportedly had a broken leg.

A winter storm warning remains in effect at Lake Tahoe and Markleeville until 8 a.m. today.

Flurries fell along the Sierra Front on Saturday afternoon with trace amounts of snow. This morning could see lingering showers clearing to mostly sunny skies with a high temperature of 51 degrees. The south wind is forecast to shift west at 15-20 mph gusting to 35 mph.

Fredericksburg resident Jeff Garvin reported .26 inches of rain and perhaps a half inch of snow at 6:40 p.m. Saturday.

A gauge north of Genoa had .37 inches at around the same time.

4:15 p.m. Saturday update

Douglas County Dispatch reported receiving multiple 911 calls regarding at least two stuck vehicles at Daggett Summit.

Meanwhile, a 3:30 p.m. collision at highways 50 and 28 saw an additional report of a pedestrian struck as well at around 4 p.m.

Interstate 80 is closed from the Nevada state line to the Kingvale Exit on the western slope. 

Flurries started falling in Genoa around 3:30 p.m.

3:15 p.m. Update

Conditions in the Sierra are deteriorating rapidly with chain controls implemented over Kingsbury Grade at 2:50 p.m. and over Carson Pass at 1:40 p.m.

Traffic is being held on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, while chain controls are in effect on Highway 50 over Echo Summit.

Just over a quarter inch of rain fell in Genoa as of 3 p.m.

Cameras at Heavenly Mountain Resort show snow continuing to fall.

The traffic camera at Spooner Summit in northwestern Douglas County shows snow sticking to the highway.

2 p.m. Saturday update

Road controls are in effect over Echo and Donner Summit in the Sierra as a rare May winter storm arrives in the Sierra.

Chains are required on all vehicles except four-wheel drive with snow tires over the Mount Rose Highway.

A high wind warning is in effect on Interstate 580 through Washoe Valley.

Traffic cameras at are showing snow falling at Lake level. The camera at Daggett Summit over Kingsbury Grade is iced over, but snow can be seen falling one corner.

“Current satellite Imagery shows a classic comma shaped frontal band more indicative of a late winter season storm seen in February,” forecasters said in a 1 p.m. weather update.

NV Energy reported an outage in downtown Gardnerville affecting fewer than five customers at 12:45 p.m. Power had not been restored as of 2:20 p.m. with no estimate at

8:45 a.m. Update

A 43 mph wind gust at Minden-Tahoe Airport greeted today’s high wind warning.

South-southwest winds are forecast through 8 p.m. today, with a wind gauge in Gardnerville recording a 42 mph gust at 8:08 a.m.

Winds gusting into the 40s are forecast for Carson Valley through 4 p.m. today with steady winds of 25-30 mph, only slowing a bit as the chance of rain increases this afternoon.

Minden residents shouldn’t expect too much precipitation, with up to a fifth of an inch today.

National Weather Service radar shows the brunt of the storm arriving on the West Slope around 8:30 a.m. 

A rare May winter storm warning for the Sierra Nevada, including western Douglas County, is 11 a.m. today through 8 a.m. Sunday.

“Models and the high resolution ensemble forecast are indicating that the heaviest of the snowfall in the Sierra is still expected late morning into the early evening, with snowfall rates upwards 1-2 inches an hour likely,” forecasters said early Saturday. “Accumulations on roadways may be limited during the day given the time of year, but the snowfall rates may be enough to overcome this factor.”

There is a slight chance for snow showers in Western Nevada valleys tonight, but most of the precipitation is expected to fall as rain.

As is common with incoming fronts, early morning temperatures in Carson Valley were 50 degrees or warmer. Those temperatures are expected to fall to below freezing around midnight with the low forecast at 27 degrees.

“High temperatures by Sunday will fall to as much as 15-20 degrees below average for this time of year,” forecasters said. “In fact it will feel more like an average day for early February. A greater concern with the cold temperatures will be the overnight lows for Sunday and Monday mornings.”

5 p.m. Friday story

An incoming storm prompted forecasters to report “the first ever winter storm warning issued for the month of May in recent history” for the Sierra Nevada in western Douglas County.

“The latest high resolution ensemble forecast model is showing the potential for 1-2 inch per hour snowfall rates in the afternoon and evening which is not very common to see this time of year,” forecasters warned on Friday afternoon. “Once again, travelers should be prepared due to the expected hazardous traveling conditions in these areas that will include blowing snow (with the strong winds) and accumulating snow that may cause slick roadways.”

While there’s a good chance of snowfall in the upper elevations, Carson Valley is expected to see rain with some snow mixed in on Saturday night.

Western Nevada residents could see snow flurries on Sunday morning.

A high wind warning is in effect for Western Nevada, including Carson Valley, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday with wind gusts around 40 mph, down from the near 60 mph winds reported in the Friday morning forecast. As the storm gets nearer, rain totals for Minden were also revised downward to less than a fifth of an inch.


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