Weather News

Update: How long will rain last? Storm challenges roads, will blanket Sierra with snow

Another storm system has blanketed Northern California on Saturday, bringing with it more wet, windy and cold conditions in May for the valley and “significant” snow in the Sierra range over the next 48 hours.

Already roadway conditions are causing trouble from Truckee, where chain controls are expected later Saturday, to Elk Grove, where an overturned car hauler is blocking one lane of traffic on southbound Highway 99.

Rain to last through Sunday

Sacramento could see up to about three-quarters of an inch of rain as an unstable system rakes across the area.

“The storm is on track to produce a decent amount of rain,” said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

And the temperature may not top 60 degrees in most spots as a wind advisory is in place from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. for the valley from Sacramento north to Redding, including Marysville, Chico and Paradise. Winds are expected to be 25 mph or higher with gusts of 40 mph.

The NWS and Caltrans are warning drivers of high-profile vehicles should use caution on roadways during the afternoon and evening hours.

Chandler-Cooley said this storm has the same pattern as the one that moved through the region earlier in the week with a main band of precipitation moving through on the first day with lesser bands of rain but the threat of thunderstorms as the clouds clear out the following day.

Sunday’s conditions look to be much of the same with temperatures topping out at 62 degrees in Sacramento after an overnight low of 49. Showers are expected throughout the day Sunday. Monday has a glimmer of hope with a break in the clouds during day before the threat of showers return.

Chandler-Cooley said forecast models show another, similar storm streaming from the Gulf of Alaska is expected in Northern California on Monday night into Tuesday. And, she said, Sacramento may even see the remnants of that storm on Wednesday morning.

What about the Sierra?

The latest storm may drop an additional six inches to a foot of new snow in the Sierra through Sunday, NWS said, prompting them to upgrade their forecasts to a winter storm warning for elevations above 6,000 feet beginning at 5 p.m.

Snow will start on the western slopes before 3 p.m., NWS radar models show, and will last through the night. Chandler-Cooley said that elevations as low as 5,000 feet could see a dusting of snow Sunday morning.

Authorities say mountain travel is not recommended past noon Saturday, as chain controls and travel delays on the major roadways through the mountains are very likely. Up to 2 feet of snow is possible at higher elevations.

The mid-week storm brought plenty of fresh powder to the mountains, including at the summit and near Tahoe. Much of the central and northern Sierra got between a foot and 18 inches from Wednesday through Friday morning, NWS reports.