Tahoe area residents are being warned of some very extreme weather coming their way — and even there's already been a good amount of snow up there, what's coming is a whole hell of a lot more.

The storm coming in, as we discussed earlier in the week, is not going to bring any particularly major amount of rain to the Bay Area — but, as the National Weather Service tells us, "the late week weather looks downright... unpleasant. Cold, windy, and cloudy with periods of rain. Dreary conditions will linger into Saturday."

Rainfall totals in San Francisco may not even top one inch over the course of three days, but some higher elevations down on the Peninsula and up in northern Sonoma County could see two or three inches this weekend.

The real story will be in the Sierra, where the National Weather Service has issued some very dire and rare warnings about the coming blizzard. Earlier forecasts had talked about ten feet of snow at higher elevations, and those have risen to up to 12 or 13 feet. The Tahoe basin itself, with lake level at 6,224 feet in elevation, could see around five feet of snow between Thursday and Saturday, and the weather service is warning that these will be "life-threatening blizzard conditions" at times.

Tahoe had a blizzard warning at this time last year, on February 27, 2023, but this storm sounds like it will be a record-breaker. It's forecast to be bigger, in fact, than a storm that landed in mid-March 2020, just before pandemic lockdowns began.

As Danny Chao of Truckee tells KPIX of that storm, "It was March 13th weekend, and I remember it was just, as soon as I shoveled the deck I'd go back inside, I'd look outside and there was another foot, 2 feet. It just accumulated so fast."

UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory is in Soda Springs, in Nevada County, and it sits at an elevation of 6,894 feet. The lab says it expecting to record snowfall totals that beat out some of its records of the snowiest days ever recorded there — if not the all-time snowiest, which hit 52 inches on February 3rd, 1989.

"If forecasts are correct, we have a real chance at beating the daily snowfall record at the Snow Lab," says Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist and manager of the lab, speaking to the Chronicle via email.

As the Chronicle explains, "The upcoming storm is colder than those that arrived earlier this winter, and is tracking toward California from the chilly Gulf of Alaska."

The frigid air coming in off the Pacific helps form icy clouds, which will be propelled further inland than earlier storms this season by a strong jet stream.

The wind will also be pretty intense in the Sierra — with wind gusts at the crests projected to hit 110 miles per hour.

And the "unusually cold nature of the storm," the Chronicle's meteorology team explains, means that lower elevations in the Sierra foothills could see up to a foot of snowfall, and we'll likely see snow on Bay Area peaks as well, down to 2,000 feet or below.

Everyone up in Truckee, Tahoe City, and other towns in the Tahoe area have been stocking up on supplies and making sure generators and snowblowers are gassed up.

"We don't know what the weather or what the power is going to be like, whether we're going to run out of power, so definitely having that extra storage, of canned goods that don't go bad as well as having a way to keep the items cold in the fridge so that if you do have a power outage, you're not losing your food," says Doug Farley, manager of Mountain Hardware & Sports, speaking to KPIX.

That store will stay open, Farley says, until the CHP or the town of Truckee tells them it's no longer safe and all employees should go home.

Photo: Tom Milkovic