Photo Credit: Andy Barron/AP

Blockbuster blizzard due to slam California with 12 feet of snow

In the next few days, the mountainous parts of California are likely to see blizzard conditions brought on by a major winter storm that has the potential to bring huge amounts of snow, wind gusts reaching high speeds, and other unusual weather conditions.

Those traveling face a significant threat as this storm is expected to blanket the state with the heaviest snowfall it has seen so far this year. In contrast, it is expected to greatly increase California’s water reserves and revitalize the state’s tourist industry.

Winds above 140 mph and heavy snowfall were recorded at the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada on Thursday. Blizzard conditions are predicted to continue into the weekend, bringing with it stronger winds and an even heavier snowfall.

The Reno, Nevada, office of the National Weather Service has issued a warning on the dangerous conditions over the Sierra passes, noting that they are expected to become much worse throughout the weekend. They emphasize that sheltering in place is crucial to avoid the dangerous weather.

From Friday into Saturday, snowfall rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour are expected, with the Sierra Nevada seeing the heaviest snowfall. Within a few days, this continuous snowfall is expected to cause accumulations between 6 to 12 feet in several alpine regions.

On top of the snowfall and the possibility of large drifts, the storm is likely to reach its strongest at the highest altitudes, where winds of more than 100 mph are predicted.

With key highways like I-80 potentially closed, the resulting circumstances are going to make traveling over the Sierra very difficult, if not impossible.

The storm’s potential benefits to California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack, which had a slow start to the winter season, outweigh the risks and disruptions it poses. The snowpack levels are vital to the state’s water supply and ecological health, and the large amount of snowfall that is expected from this storm might help close or lessen the difference.

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