RENO, Nev. — The National Weather Service issued multiple watches and warnings along the Sierra’s eastern front Thursday ahead of a series of powerful storms expected to bring rain, high-elevation snow, strong winds and increased fire danger to western Nevada through the weekend.
The winds, combined with low relative humidity, triggered red-flag warnings Thursday afternoon stretching from Mineral and southern Lyon County southeast of Reno to as far south as the Las Vegas area and southwest Lincoln County.
Gusts in excess of 100 mph are expected over Sierra ridge tops beginning Thursday night, with sustained winds up to 35 mph and 65 mph gusts in the valleys around Reno and Carson City, the weather service said.
“Even though summer has passed, the potential for extreme fires is still just as high,” Reno Fire Chief Dave Cochran said Thursday.
Another round of severe weather is expected to bring snow to upper elevations of the Sierra on Saturday into Sunday, including on U.S. Interstate 80 over the Donner Pass near Truckee, California. Wind gusts on the tops of mountains there could reach 125 mph, the service said.
Up to 4 inches of rain is forecast in the Sierra, and about a half-inch in Reno into Sunday. Wind-blown waves could reach 6-feet high on Lake Tahoe.
Authorities warned residents to prepare for potential power outages, with damage to trees and power lines likely.
Severe turbulence also is expected to result in flight delays as a result of the storm associated with Typhoon Songda, which wreaked havoc in the western Pacific Ocean earlier this week and is expected to pummel the West Coast from San Francisco to Seattle.
The high-wind warnings in the Sierra were to go into effect 8 p.m. Thursday at Lake Tahoe and 11 p.m. in Reno, effective until 5 p.m. Friday. High-profile vehicles should stay off U.S. Highway 395 between Reno and Carson City and further south to the California line, the service advised.
The red-flag warning was in effect from 2 p.m. Thursday to 11 a.m. Friday in north central Nevada.
“Particularly strong winds with this event can cause fire to rapidly grow in size and intensity,” the service said.
A wind advisory goes into effect on Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Fernley, Fallon, Lovelock and the area around Pyramid lake north of Reno, where waves are expected up to 5 feet.
“Areas of blowing dust will reduce visibility along sections of Interstate 80, and Highways 50 and 95,” the service said. “Small boats and kayaks should stay off Pyramid Lake.”
Residents also were advised to secure Halloween decorations and unplug electrical plugs, and store patio furniture, umbrellas and barbecue grills that could become wind-borne and cause damage.