- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A rare blizzard warning has been issued for parts of the Sierra where as much as 2 feet of snow is expected in the upper elevations by Friday on the heels of winds gusting well in excess of 100 mph over the mountaintops around Lake Tahoe.

Damaging winds could move into the region early Thursday, with gusts up to 70 mph in Reno, Sparks and the Carson City area. Wind-whipped waves at Lake Tahoe could reach 7 feet, the National Weather Service said.

Snow was expected in the Sierra beginning Wednesday night, with 1 to 2 feet above 7,000 feet and up to 3 feet on the ridges by Friday morning.

The blizzard warning effective at 10 p.m. Wednesday runs through 4 a.m. Friday for the Sierra’s western slope above 6,000 feet.

A winter storm warning will be in effect from 1 p.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday at Lake Tahoe, where up to a foot of snow is expected at lake level.

It’s shaping up to be the biggest wind event to hit the region since December 2012, with the possibility of gusts reaching 140 mph over the top of the Sierra, the weather service said.

“It’s probably one of the best storms we’ve seen in a while,” meteorologist Dawn Johnson told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “We’re not talking anything historic, but it’s going to be a big winter storm.”

Conditions will deteriorate rapidly Thursday evening over Sierra passes, the service said.

“Windy and heavy snow will lower visibility below 1 mile with whiteout conditions,” it said.

A high wind warning effective from 10 p.m. Wednesday through 4 a.m. Friday extends from Gerlach about 90 miles north of Reno to as far south as Bridgeport, California. A wind advisory kicks in at 4 a.m. Thursday for points further east, including Fallon, Lovelock, Hawthorne and Yerington.

Areas of blowing dust likely will reduce visibility to a mile or less along U.S. Interstate 80 east of Fernley, and on U.S. Highways 50 and 95.

“Holiday decorations, patio furniture and other loose objects should be secured or brought indoors,” the service said.

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