As a major storm approaches the Sierra Nevadas, people are preparing for the worst. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning which will start Saturday at 4pm and last for 24 hours. More than a foot of heavy snow is expected to fall in the mountains during this period, and gusts may reach up to 50 mph.
So far, parts of Highway 120 and Highway 41 are closed. Previous storm damage has made it necessary to close the roads to motorists. Emergency road repairs are underway, yet it can be difficult to complete comprehensive repair during the winter. Drivers who plan on heading to Yosemite or other areas in the mountains should take Highway 140 instead.
Highway 50 is down to one lane in one area due to a landslide near Pollock Pines. Anyone planning on going to Lake Tahoe should plan extra time.
Heavy snow could cause additional road closures, so it’s always a good idea to check the road conditions before traveling. Many people are expected to head up to the mountains on Friday before the storm hits.
Just south of Lake Tahoe at Phllips Station, the snowpack so far is about 179% of average. In other areas, the level is closer to 200% of average. These numbers can be remarkable on their own, but they’re even more so given the fact that much of California has been facing drought conditions for five years.
This amount of precipitation is great news for the most part, but some structures, roads, and public workers have struggled to keep up with it. Dams are overflowing, creeks are running more like rivers, and flooding has been a common occurrence this year. In some areas, the roads have succumbed to the elements, but the state and regional departments in charge of them will have a chance to catch up with repairs this spring.