With spring just weeks away, winter weather will make a strong comeback today with several feet of snow and heavy winds expected.
Skiers should expect 3-4 feet of snow to fall in the Sierra Nevada, while the valley floors will be dusted with up to 2-3 inches.
Originating in the Gulf of Alaska, today's storm will also bring with it gusts of wind that are expected to blow 100 mph over mountain ridges and up to 50 mph in valley. Ski resorts are not planning to close lift operations with the high wind and winter storm warning, officials said Tuesday.
Intermittent rain and dark clouds that hung around skies over the Carson City area Tuesday were leftover from a weaker storm that hit earlier this week, said Rudy Cruz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
Snow is expected to fall at the 6,500 foot level this morning, dropping to the valley floor by this afternoon.
"Up in the mountains, we're probably looking at 18 to 36 inches of snow expected from Wednesday to Thursday morning at the 7,000 foot level," Cruz said.
Up to 4 feet of snow is expected to drop above 7,000 feet through Thursday evening. Forecasters expect lighter snow showers to linger into the weekend.
"It has a pretty good jet stream with it," Cruz said. "The high winds will be kicking in (this) morning."
Winds from 20 to 30 mph are expected to remain steady in the valley areas with gusts at times reaching 50 mph. Gusts up to 100 mph are predicted to reach the mountain ridges, with steady 20 to 35 mph wind most of the day, Cruz said.
Lake Tahoe ski resort officials said lifts will stay open if possible during the weather and are looking for the powder to keep bringing skiers to the slopes well into spring.
Heavenly Ski Resort maintenance workers will assess the wind conditions but don't expect to close the popular Heavenly Gondola that takes skiers from Stateline to the mountain resort.
"If we feel it's necessary for the gondola to be shut down, then we'll do that," said spokeswoman Angela Moniet. "We don't have a set speed for when we will close the gondola. It's dependent on wind speed and direction."
The resort is in the midst of a "fantastic season" and is ready for the storm to dump fresh snow on the 71Ú2-foot base.
"This is a great time for another storm to come our way and hopefully bring another 4 feet," Moniet said. "By no means are we winding down. It seems like this is coming at a great time for us. It will bring us through the springtime."
Northstar at Tahoe is not expected to close any part of its operations because of the storm, according to the resort's snow report. The resort has a 57-to-87-inch base.
With winter over March 19, the snow-packed storm is not unusual for this time of year, Cruz said. The area is still recording below-average precipitation.
The Reno area has received 1.32 inches of precipitation this year, down slightly from the average 1.97 inches. The storm fits a typical pattern for the area, Cruz said.
"Usually the pattern gets strong and then lays down two to three weeks, and then here comes another one," Cruz said.
The weather service expects smaller snow showers with two to three systems passing through the area next week, with the intensity decreasing by the middle of next week.
Contact Jill Lufrano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.