Law enforcement agencies, particularly in Mono County, now brace for a severe winter storm which some forecasters say could leave as much as 5 to 10 feet of snow in the higher elevations of the Sierra and some snow down in the Owens Valley.
The National Weather Service out of Reno issued a Special Weather Statement on Monday to warn of a prolonged period of wet and windy weather likely late this week into next week.
Weather patterns were expected to deliver a series of strong storms beginning today (Thursday) through next week-end. In addition to heavy snow, the National Weather Service warns of unusually strong winds with a potential for blizzard conditions especially Friday and Sunday.
The National Weather Service says that snow levels are currently expected to fall on the valley floor Friday night through the weekend. Another strong system is currently predicted for Sunday. Forecasters underscore that the location of heavy snowfall is still uncertain.
Officials from the Mono Sheriffs Department, Mammoth Police, CalTrans, Mammoth Fire and others had scheduled a meeting in Mammoth Lakes yesterday to discuss potential highway closures and opening of shelters.
Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze said that significant snowfall will trigger road closures. He said that if Mammoth Lakes is shut down due to weather, he and others will set up an Emergency Operation Center in Bishop at the Police Department. From there, Sheriff Lutze said, they will coordinate temporary housing for those in need as a result of highway closures.
Mono Sheriffs Emergency Services Coordinator Sergeant Dave OHara issued a statement about the expected weather problems. Sgt. Ohara reminded Mono County citizens to keep enough food, water, medications and other supplies on hand for a period of up to 72 hours. Sergeant OHara said power outages and avalqances could happen, along with white outs due to high wind.
OHara said that if you live in an avalance area, find out where your local evacuation shelter is located in case you have to leave your home. He also advises an alternative way to heat your home; and if you have to drive, carry chains, a cell phone, emergency food, water and blankets or sleeping bags.
We will keep you updated on the status of these storm predictions.