Winter is Coming: First Significant Storms of Season to Dump Snow in Sierra

Coming on the heels of one of California's wettest winters in years, fall snowstorms are expected through the weekend

A mountain pass that runs through Yosemite National Park will close to traffic Thursday ahead of winter-like storms expected to dump up to 2 feet of snow on the highest peaks, park officials said.

Tioga Road, the soaring eastern entry to the park, will close to vehicular traffic at 5 p.m. Thursday. Officials will also close Glacier Point Road, which offers sweeping views of Yosemite Valley. No overnight parking will be permitted on either roadway, National Park Service officials said.

Both roads will be closed through Monday, when the storms are expected to dissipate and road conditions can be assessed.

State transportation officials closed Ebbetts Pass, or State Route 4, Thursday afternoon and planned to close Sonora Pass, or State Route 108, at midnight Thursday.

Light rain over the northern mountains is expected as early as Thursday afternoon. But heavier rain and snow will likely fall Friday night through Saturday, with a second storm coming Sunday.

Up to 2 feet of snow are forecast to fall in elevations above 8,000 feet, and at least a foot of snow is expected in Donner and Tioga passes and other areas above 6,000 feet and up, forecasters said. The storms coming in from the Gulf of Alaska will also bring rain to the San Francisco Bay Area, including North Bay counties still recovering from last month's fires.

The first storm will clear by Sunday afternoon. But a second storm system is expected to hit the area Sunday night.

So far, the only Lake Tahoe-area ski resort to open is Mt. Rose area on the Nevada side. But the forecast snowstorms are getting skiers excited about the upcoming ski season.

"We are so excited for the coming storms and to see the first 30 inches of snow cover the Sierra over the next few weeks," said Marcie Bradley, a spokeswoman with Northstar Ski Resort in Truckee, which is scheduled to open Nov. 17. "We are ecstatic to see what bounty Mother Nature brings."

In Southern California, light rain is possible throughout the weekend.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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