Series of storms starting Sunday set to impact Lake Tahoe

Weather officials are expecting a stormy start to 2021.

A notable change to an active weather pattern that officials say could bring several days of high wind and heavy snow. Lake Tahoe woke up Thursday morning to a few inches of snow and much more appears to be on the way.

A view from Homewood Mountain Resort in mid-December.

The National Weather Service in Reno has issued a Winter Weather Watch for a storm late this weekend, Sunday evening through Monday evening, that may bring triple digit winds and could drop a foot or more of heavy snow above 7,000 feet and 3-8 inches below.

Officials said to plan for slick roads during the Monday morning commute and high wind could cause extensive tree damage.

But the late weekend storm appears to be a teaser for a bigger, colder storm that could move in as early as Tuesday evening.

“This (Sunday storm) is expected to be the first of a series of storms next week,” said the service in a statement. “Plan on difficult travel in and around the Sierra through much of next week.”

Starting Sunday night travel will be difficult in the Sierra. Motorists should expect significant travel disruptions over mountain passes, including avalanche danger, officials said.

Motorists planning to travel through the mountains during this period should first consider changing plans but if travel is necessary, to carry tire chains and an emergency kit that includes extra food, water and clothing. Once the storm arrives, officials said travel may be difficult or even impossible for an extended period of time.

The stormy start to the New Year will impact the snowpack that was measured Wednesday and is lagging well behind normal for the time of year. The statewide snowpack is at 52% of median, but officials at Phillips Station near Sierra-at-Tahoe measured it to be 93% in that location.