Major Storm To Bring White Christmas To Plains

By: Shaun Tanner , 5:47 AM GMT on December 24, 2012

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A major Winter storm slammed into California Sunday, bringing very heavy rain along with several feet of new snow to the Golden State. The high elevation snow fell on the heels of another strong storm on Saturday. The new snow made travel conditions on Interstate 80, a major thruway for Holiday travel over the Sierra Nevadas, very dangerous. The freeway was closed to trucks both westbound and eastbound as it became too dangerous to travel on the road due to multiple spinouts. If you want to see what I-80 looks like right now, see the below image.



It is likely that more snow will fall on the Sierra Nevadas before the next storm arrives on Christmas afternoon. To underline this fact, the NWS has allowed a Winter Storm Warning to be extended into Monday morning. Over a foot of new snow is likely over 7,000 feet during this period, with 6 inches possible at Lake Tahoe level.

Some amazing snowfall totals have been tallied since Saturday. You can see all of the snowfall totals by going to our Winter Storm page, but I want to highlight a few of these totals here.



Above is the 2-day snowfall totals for the winter storm. Note the ample amount of snow over the Sierra Nevadas where some of the highest elevations received over 4 feet of new snow.

Ski resorts reported some of the highest amounts of snow, so I would ask you to take some of the following numbers with that in mind. I am not saying ski resorts lie, but they have been known to report numbers higher than other stations nearby.

Snowfall Totals:

Homewoord, CA 74 inches (2-day)
Northstar Ski Area 50 inches
Squaw Valley 39 inches
Incline Village, NV 39 inches
Heavenly Valley 38 inches
Mount Rose, NV 32 inches
Portola, CA 26 inches

Along with all of the snow, much of Northern California was also hit with heavy rain. This rain allowed several creeks and rivers to approach or exceed flood stage. Most of these rivers are flood-prone and approach flood stage during many strong storms. A brief break from the next storm will be welcomed for these rivers. Below are some of the river gauges that approached or exceeded flood stage.







White Christmas For The Plains

This same storm will move eastward Monday, where Winter Weather Advisories are ready and waiting in anticipation of over a foot of new snow. As it moves over the Rockies and into the Plains, it will strengthen significantly on Christmas Day.



The forecast for Amarillo, TX for Christmas day is for a high of 32 degrees and a low of 10 degrees into Wednesday morning. This means that any precipitation that does fall in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles could very well fall as snow. The key here is timing. Precipitation should begin as rain in the morning, but as the main storm moves eastward and passes over northern and central Texas, cold air moving into the region could turn this rain to snow. I am sure we will notify everybody if it snows in Texas on Christmas.




But wait, there's more. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a slight risk of severe weather on Christmas from eastern Texas through western Georgia. This means that severe thunderstorms are possible in this area, bringing heavy rain, large hail, and strong winds. A tornado or two cannot be ruled out either.

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4:42 AM GMT on December 25, 2012
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About shauntanner

Shaun Tanner has been a meteorologist at Weather Underground since 2004.

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