Sierra avalanche warning upgraded following heavy snowfall on Tuesday

The central Sierra Nevada’s avalanche warning was upgraded from moderate to high levels Wednesday, indicating extremely dangerous conditions as overnight snowfall exceeded predictions.

The warning, which was issued by the Sierra Avalanche Center and will last until Friday morning, warns that avalanches large enough to bury people are likely to occur.

A blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service is set to take effect Wednesday evening and last until Thursday morning, indicating up to 5 feet of snow at high elevations.

“Expect widespread, large, and destructive avalanche activity in the mountains,” the National Weather Service said. “Natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered avalanches are very likely.”

The Sierra Avalanche Center said more snow fell in the last 24 hours than was expected, with more than 2 feet observed in some areas.

The following snowfall amounts were reported by the National Weather Service between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday:

  • Squaw Valley: 29 inches
  • Tahoe Donner ski resort: 26 inches
  • June Mountain: 24 inches
  • Homewood: 23 inches
  • Northstar: 23 inches
  • Sugar Bowl: 23 inches
  • Truckee: 20 inches
  • Mount Rose ski resort: 19 inches
  • Kingvale: 18 inches
  • Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort: 18 inches
  • Incline Village: 16 inches
  • Bear Valley: 14 inches
  • Kirkwood: 14 inches
  • Diamond Peak: 12 inches
  • Tahoe City: 11.5 inches
  • South Lake Tahoe: 10 inches
  • Heavenly ski resort: 7 inches

The Sierra Avalanche Center predicts as much as 24 inches of snow to fall in the Sierra Wednesday and up to 28 inches of snow on Thursday.

The National Weather Service said there is a chance of thunderstorms in Northern California Wednesday evening along with heavy rain and high winds with gusts as high as 65 mph. It warned of possible power outages and advised against travel in the Sierra.

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