Weather

You’ll need your umbrellas and tire chains this weekend: A winter storm is on its way

Fly over the snowy Sierra Nevada in what may be the best view you’ll see this winter

Fly over the Sierra Nevada - first Donner Lake area, then along the Truckee River between Truckee and Lake Tahoe, and finally along the South Yuba River at Hampshire Rocks Campground. The snow in this area is key to California's water supply.
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Fly over the Sierra Nevada - first Donner Lake area, then along the Truckee River between Truckee and Lake Tahoe, and finally along the South Yuba River at Hampshire Rocks Campground. The snow in this area is key to California's water supply.

A storm headed for Northern California this weekend is expected to bring rain to the Valley and snow in the Sierra, improving air quality but heavily affecting travel.

After experiencing the worst air quality since smoke from Butte County’s Camp Fire permeated Sacramento in November, southerly winds are expected to roll in Saturday, dropping the local air quality index from somewhat unhealthy to moderate levels, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

SparetheAir.com, a site run by local air quality districts, predicts that Sacramento-area air quality will be good Sunday onward.

Lori Kobza, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, said the burn ban in place Friday will be lifted Saturday and is likely to remain lifted past Sunday.

Winds in Northern California are expected to reach 30 mph Saturday with gusts double that speed, which may knock down tree branches and cause power outages, according to the National Weather Service.

Weather service forecaster Jim Mathews said weakened trees in burn scar areas may be particularly susceptible to high winds.

Snow in the Sierra is expected to reach more than 2 feet at higher elevations, with the heaviest precipitation coming in Saturday afternoon and early evening, according to the NWS.

The weather service warned that tire chains will likely be needed above 3,500 feet and discouraged traveling on Saturday due to hazardous conditions. It said weekend Sierra travelers should leave Friday to avoid delays and possible closures.

Mathews said there may be 1 to 2 feet of snow along the Interstate 80 corridor from Blue Canyon to the crest of the Sierra.

“Probably don’t travel through the mountains tomorrow,” Mathews said. “For travelers, we do expect a little bit of a lull in the rain and snow on Sunday.”

Mathews said travel would be much easier Sunday morning, but rain and snow is expected to kick up in the evening hours, impacting travel once again.

The Valley may see up to 2 inches of rain over the weekend with the possibility of localized flooding. Sacramento is expected to receive a half-inch to 1 inch of rain, according to the weather service.

Snow and rain may continue into Wednesday, Mathews said.

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