This is the last dry day for the Bay Area for the next week or so, and it is now guaranteed to be a white — maybe even white-out — Christmas up in Tahoe.
San Francisco and the South Bay are forecast to get between 1 and 3 inches of rain over several days starting Tuesday, with the North Bay and local peaks expected to get 4 to 6 inches of fresh rain. The National Weather Service says that the good news with the latest weather system is that the rainfall will be spread over several days, so there is less likelihood of flash floods and landslides, but there will likely be some minor flooding.
"There is good confidence that the rain chances will continue into holiday weekend, but afterward the forecast gets a bit more murky," the weather service says.
Rainy, wet week ahead through the weekend. Good news is that rain totals are spread out over many days which should mitigate major impacts. But be prepared for minor flooding, slick roads, and potential for debris flows/mudslides. Burn scars outlined in red. #cawx #BayArea pic.twitter.com/47MC9rZh0A— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) December 19, 2021
ABC 7 says that every day this week, starting tomorrow, there will be a 1- or 2-level winter storm, indicating light to moderate rainfall. Lows tonight will dip to the low 40s on the coast, but temperatures through the week won't be too frigid, with highs in the mid-50s most days.
Up in Tahoe, though, you can expect some major snowfall. The National Weather Service's Sacramento office predicts 80 to 100 inches of new snow by Christmas on Donner Pass, and still very significant accumulations elsewhere around the Tahoe area. Driving in and out of Tahoe this week is, therefore, not recommended, and you can expect I-80 is going to get shut to traffic multiple times in the coming days.
Very active storm pattern expected to impact travel during the busy holiday week.— NWS Reno (@NWSReno) December 19, 2021
Travel could be very difficult to impossible at times over the Sierra through the week, with significant impacts possible in western Nevada valleys by Christmas Eve. #NVwx #CAwx #Snow pic.twitter.com/7dX9zQYBlE
Anyone remember when thousands of Tahoe-bound travelers didn't heed warnings over President's Weekend in February 2019, and then got stuck in grueling 14-hour rides up Highway 50 after I-80 was closed due to major snow? Don't let that happen to you. And now that everyone is working remotely, why should it?
Snow up in the mountains is expected to start Tuesday by midday, with rain possibly mixed in. But then the Central Sierra and Tahoe area will be seeing very heavy snowfall from Wednesday all the way through the holiday weekend. So wherever you are by Wednesday morning, don't expect to move around much up there.
This could all make for some fantastic skiing during the holiday week between Christmas and New Year's, but if you aren't already up there or leaving tomorrow, good luck getting there before the middle of next week.
"A lot of people will be traveling up into the mountains and just generally," says National Weather Service meteorologist Anna Wanless in comments to the Chronicle. "We’re telling people to try and get their travel in before Wednesday, otherwise give yourself extra time to reach your destination."
Photo: Kevin Barnard