SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A winter storm front, swirling off the California coast Thursday, was set to deliver 22-foot swells along the coast and up to 2 feet of snow and winds topping 100 mph in the mountains.
The National Weather Service has issued a high surf warning for all Bay Area beaches beginning Thursday evening and running through 4 p.m. Friday. Swells were predicted to hit 18-22 feet with the strong threat of deadly rip tides.
Meanwhile, the weather service has issued a winter storm warning for the snow starved Sierra starting Thursday evening. The heaviest snowfall was expected for the I-80 corridor with 18 inches of snow predicted for Donner Summit and Kingvale and 8 inches on tap for Truckee.
At the higher elevations of the Tahoe ski resorts as much as 2 feet could fall. The snow levels were expected to fall to around 2500-3500 feet by early Friday.
Winds of 25-30 mph were forecasted for the mountain passes, carrying with them a warning from transportation officials to be prepared for blowing and drifting snow on I-80 and Highway 50. Chains will definitely be needed.
“Plan on difficult travel conditions in near white-out conditions at times,” the service said in a special weather statement Wednesday.
Along the Sierra crest isolated gusts could reach speeds up to 100 mph.
The Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee issued a backcountry avalanche watch Wednesday for the Tahoe area because of the forecast of heavy snow combined with strong winds.
While the surf and snow were the major concerns for forecasters, rain will not. The weather service said that around 1/4 inch would fall around the Bay Area with 1/2 inch in the North Bay and as much as an inch in the coastal hills.
Another round of light to moderate rain was expected to arrive on Sunday with a major rainmaker moving through next Wednesday.