CISCO GROVE, Calif. (KTXL) — A winter storm warning remained in effect Monday morning as snow fell in the Sierra and portions of the foothills.
The warning is expected to remain in effect until 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Lab, said they tallied about 24 inches of snow Monday morning, which is well above the average for this time of the year.
“It’s amazing. This is the type of stuff that we’re hoping for,” Schwartz said.
“This won’t be a one and done,” he continued. “This won’t pull us out of the drought completely, but this is a great start towards getting us there.”
Local residents, who have seen it all, were also surprised by the storm.
“It’s a good one. It’s definitely a good one,” local chef Scott Vanevery said.
Vanevery has some advice for those who aren’t used to moving around in this kind of weather.
“Stay off the mountain ’til it stops snowing,” Vanevery said.
Weather and traffic officials have warned the snow would cause “difficult to impossible mountain travel.”
Drivers heading up the mountain on I-80 should expect chain controls. Chains are required eastbound and westbound between Nyack and Truckee. The only exception is for all-wheel drive vehicles.
On eastbound Highway 50, chains are required between just east of Kyburz to Meyers.
As for truck drivers headed eastbound up the mountain, they’ll have to stop for a chain check at the Applegate exit.
Truck driver Yosef Musa, who stopped along the side of the road to put on chains, had a message for drivers coming up this way.
“Well, just be careful, slow down, don’t rush,” Musa told FOX40. “Just be comfortable. Safety is the number one.”
“I just heard something popped in the back tire and one of the chains was gone,” Kevin, a driver in Kingvale, told FOX40. “It looks beautiful, but it’s kind of weird with this weather like that. It’s too cold, and now I’m late to my job.”
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District said all schools are closed, and activities are also canceled Monday.
“This Atmospheric River will continue to bring unsettled weather, the National Weather Service tweeted.
The heaviest rain and snow are expected to impact Northern California through Tuesday morning.
Some of the strongest wind gusts recorded during the storm have come out of the Lake Tahoe Basin, with 121 mph gusts reported in Alpine Meadows and 114 mph gusts in Olympic Valley.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, as well as the Delta, are also expected to experience sustained 20- to 30-mph winds and 45- to 50-mph gusts.
Along with the wind, the valley could get between 2 to 5 inches of rain through Tuesday, which is a lot of rain to handle over a short time, FOX40 meteorologist Adam Epstein said.
A second storm predicted to hit California midweek could deliver almost continuous snow, said Edan Weishahn of the Weather Service in Reno, which monitors an area straddling the Nevada state line.
Donner Summit, one of the highest points on I-80 and a major commuter route, could have major travel disruptions or road closures, Weishahn said.
Caltrans said Pacific Gas and Electric decided to cancel power line work scheduled for Monday evening near Cisco Grove, which would have temporarily closed a portion of I-80.
The weather follows a calm November that was unseasonably warm.
“With this storm coming in, it’s going to be a wake-up call to a lot of folks,” Weishahn said.
Vail Resorts’ three Tahoe-area ski resorts opened with limited offerings over the weekend after crews worked to produce artificial snow. Spokeswoman Sara Roston said the resorts are looking forward to more of the real thing.
“We will assess once the storm comes in, but we do expect to open additional terrain following,” she wrote in an email.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Avalanche Center warned heavy snow and strong winds on top of a weak snowpack could cause large and destructive avalanches.
Caltrans reported early Monday morning Carson Pass was temporarily closed for avalanche control.
One man died Saturday at a ski resort in the Pacific Northwest when he was caught in an avalanche that temporarily buried five others.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.