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Hail warning issued for Sierra as isolated storm crawls across Lake Tahoe area, I-80

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 8/11/2020 By Molly Burke, The Sacramento Bee

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement Monday afternoon warning of a possible hail storm along the western slope of Placer County that could affect traffic on Interstate 80.

At 2:13 p.m., Soda Springs experienced a strong thunderstorm, bringing winds in excess of 30 mph and half-inch hail. The storm was moving to the south at 5 mph, forecasters said.

The weather service office in Sacramento advises motorists to be cautious, as hail could bring slippery driving conditions. The storm may intensify, so the agency advises drivers.

The Reno weather service office said earlier in the day that “isolated thunderstorms are starting to build over the high Sierra” would affect the greater Lake Tahoe area — Nevada, Placer, Sierra and El Dorado counties — as well as eastern portions of Lassen and Plumas counties to the north and Mono County to the south.

Strong thunderstorms are predicted for higher elevations of the Sierra and around Lassen National Park through 5 p.m.

“The strongest storms will generally be along and south of the Interstate 80 and Highway 50 corridor, to Yosemite National Park. Dangerous lightning, dime- to nickel-size hail, brief downpours and gusty downdraft winds are possible with these storms,” the agency’s warning said.

The storm could also affect Highways 4, 108 and 120 near the Sierra Crest, so motorist should be ready for changing driving conditions.

“This trend will continue through the late afternoon, with isolated-scattered storms along the Sierra between Tioga Pass, Sonora Pass, Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass and Susanville. Storms will likely push into the Western Nevada Sierra Front by late afternoon or early evening.”

Forecasters warned the slow-moving storm could drop heavy rainfall in spots and bring strong outflow winds, lightning, small hail and rapid temperature drops.

They also warned vacationers and explorers outdoors to be “seeking sturdy shelter if out in the mountains or on Sierra lakes.” The agency advised that lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the thunderstorm, so “if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.”

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