Forecast gives Sierra-bound travelers 1st weekend of mild weather in month, albeit briefly

Check out how much snow got dumped on these Tahoe ski resorts

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Heavenly Mountain Tahoe ski resorts had plenty of snow on Feb 16, 2019.
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Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Heavenly Mountain Tahoe ski resorts had plenty of snow on Feb 16, 2019.

The commute up into the Sierra Nevada will be much easier this weekend, with no major winter storms forecast to stop traffic with heavy snow, the National Weather Service said Friday, the first in nearly a month.

“This is going to be the weekend to do it,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Shoemaker. “We might have some lighter snow showers developing ... probably not a big impact to travel, and certainly nothing like what we’ve had.”

Light snow is expected late Saturday night and Sunday throughout the mountains, and if it gets icy, chain controls could be implemented. Shoemaker advised that drivers check with Caltrans before traveling for road conditions. Temperatures in South Lake Tahoe and Truckee are expected to range in the mid to upper 30s during the day with overnight temperatures in the mid to upper 30s.

Heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada has stalled traffic and made travel difficult for weeks, and the milder weather expected this weekend signals an opportunity for the snow-hungry to head up the mountains.

“I can’t say there won’t be any travel impacts, but it doesn’t look like any kind of major storm,” Shoemaker said.

Heavy snow is expected to return to the mountains Monday and Tuesday, once again making travel hazardous, Shoemaker said. A winter storm warning is in effect through Tuesday for the northern Sierra, primarily over the Shasta County mountains and portions of the coastal range, NWS said in its alert.

Snow levels will start out relatively low this weekend, but will be rising early next week,” the warning said.

Forecasts call for 2 to 4 feet of snow above 5,000 feet as the week begins, which Shoemaker said would impact mountain passes, making travel difficult for much of the workweek.

On the valley floor, temperatures will stay cool and mostly sunny, with temperatures hovering in the low 50s during the day and mid 30s with patchy frost overnight through 10 a.m.

Forecasts call for a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday night and a 60 percent chance Sunday as a cold-pressure system from British Columbia moves onshore – with most of the rain falling north of Sacramento. Rain is expected Monday and Tuesday, according to NWS, as a wet pattern fueled by an atmospheric river re-emerges next week.

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Hannah Darden covers breaking news and feature stories for The Bee and is a political science and journalism student at Sacramento State. A Sacramento native, she previously worked as editor in chief of her community college newspaper, the American River Current.