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California braces for 10 feet of snow and ‘life-threatening’ blizzard conditions

California is bracing itself for a blizzard as meteorologists predict the state will be hit by up to 10 feet of snow over the weekend.

Much of the extreme weather will be condensed to the state’s mountain areas, with the Sierra Nevada region preparing to face the brunt of it. Some areas of the state will also see high wind speeds of approximately 60 to 80 mph in extreme cases. Gusts could reach more than 120 mph.

California Blizzard (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
California Blizzard (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Officials are asking nearby residents not to travel in the storm as it can be difficult to see even a few feet in distance during a blizzard. Officials said residents should expect whiteouts and near-zero visibility.

“There is a high chance of substantial, long-lasting, disruptions to daily life in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Several road and highway closures are also to be expected.

“Sierra travel will be treacherous through the weekend, with a period of life-threatening blizzard conditions Friday afternoon through Saturday morning”, the National Weather Service said in a discussion meeting this week.

If residents should attempt to go outside, they are advised to wear appropriate clothing. “We have been saying all week that the time to hunker down is upon us”, the agency continued in the discussion.

The hardest hit areas will be those above 5,000 feet as they could see 3 to 5 inches of snow an hour. The amount of snow is likely to decrease at lower altitudes but the conditions there could be more dangerous. High-speed winds could disrupt power lines or cause trees to fall over.

Travel in some parts of the state is expected to become increasingly difficult. A winter storm warning is in effect from 4am Saturday to 10am Sunday. The National Park Service closed Yosemite at 12am on Friday due to the storm.

The park will be closed through Sunday afternoon. Visitors at the park on Thursday were asked to leave as soon as possible. Officials stated that Badger Pass, the park’s ski area, could see up to 7 feet of snow.

The incoming weather is expected to provide the state with its biggest snowfall of the year. Blizzards are particularly rare in California. The state’s most recent drought ended around 2016, with the uptick of extreme weather conditions playing a factor in its recovery.

The snow is also expected to boost the state’s water supply.

Moreover, there is potential for snowfall to increase after the warning and into early next week, according to the National Weather Service. The weather is due to deep cold air and ample moisture, the agency said. The Tahoe Basin and Mammoth Mountain are also likely to see increased numbers of snow.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mountain snow plays a key part in the state’s water cycle. As the snow melts and becomes runoff in the spring and summer, people in the West increasingly depend on it for hydropower, irrigation and drinking water.