Nevada County braces for storms |

Nevada County braces for storms

Wind blows the leaves off trees in Grass Valley Thursday afternoon in advance of shift in weather that expects to leave western Nevada County wet this weekend.
Laura Mahaffy/ |

Two strong storm systems will hit the Pacific Northwest this weekend, bringing anywhere from 5 to 7 inches of rain to Grass Valley, and upwards of 8 inches in the higher elevations, as well as all of the associated hazards, according to the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office.

The first system is expected to hit the Northern Motherlode by Friday morning and could bring between .5 inches to 1.5 inches of rain in the valley, and up to 5 inches over the mountains.

The primary impacts will be water and wind-related as snow levels will remain at or above 8,000 feet. Periods of heavy precipitation may lead to widespread urban ponding and localized flooding, making travel more dangerous, and the National Weather Service is warning against spinouts and accidents especially for the Friday morning commute.

“There might be some tough driving with rain and gusty winds and this being the first storm of the (season),” National Weather Service meteorologist Courtney Obergsell said Thursday.

Gusty winds may bring down small branches, causing localized power outages, and falling leaves can clog storm drains.

The dissipating remnants of super-typhoon Songda, one of the northernmost super-typhoons on record, will bring the second storm system to the area by Saturday afternoon and into Monday bringing .75 inches to 5 inches of rain over the mountains and wind gusts around 30-35 mph with 60-70 mph gusts over the mountain passes.

The strongest winds will occur ahead of and behind each passing storm system and snow levels will drop to 7,000 feet by Sunday night. That has area Caltrans maintenance crews fully stacked and ready to address any issue that may occur on local highways, according to Liza Whitmore, the Public Information Officer for Sierra Area Caltrans District 3.

“We have 132 pieces of snow removal equipment at Kingvale (Interstate 80),” Whitmore said Thursday afternoon. “Snow plows, snow blowers, graders, tow plows, singles and doubles, and a new piece of equipment called a snow lion, which breaks up ice.”

Though Caltrans is anticipating some snowfall Sunday night in the Donner Summit area, which sits at 7,239 feet. Whether or not chain control will be initiated depends on the intensity and frequency of the snowfall, according to Whitmore, who advises motorists traveling over I-80 to carry chains regardless and prepare for winter driving.

“Please carry chains and have your windshield wipers new, check anti-freeze levels, and your tire pressure,” Whitmore said.

The majority of driving hazards, however, are expected to come from branches falling into the roadway due to the high winds along the highways where the roadways are closer to the tree line.

A coastal flood and high surf advisory has been initiated for the Northern California coastline from the Point Reyes seashore north to Puget Sound and British Columbia from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, where a combination of high tides and beaches in their high sand summer profiles will bring northwest swells of 14 to 16 feet on Friday. A larger swell train is expected to arrive Sunday.

“The worst of the impact from wind and waves will hit the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon,” Obergsell said. “It will be a good storm for us, but the more drastic effects will be felt up north.”

To contact Staff Writer Elias Funez, email or call 530-477-4230.

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