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Major Storm Forecast to Hit Eastern Sierra

Inyo County and Allied Agencies Urge Caution

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Inyo County and Allied Agencies Urge Caution

As the Eastern Sierra braces for impacts from the first atmospheric river weather events of 2024, Inyo County and other local agencies urge residents and the traveling public to exercise extra caution this weekend on roads and highways, and around power lines.

The National Weather Service predicts at least 1-3 feet of snowfall in the Southern Sierra and White Mountains above 7,000 feet and widespread rainfall totaling 1-2 inches across valleys and desert floors. The atmospheric river carrying this moisture is expected to arrive via a Pacific Storm by Sunday then slowly spread across the entire region Monday and Tuesday, tapering off Wednesday.

An atmospheric river, according to the NWS, is a relatively long, narrow region in the atmosphere – like a river in the sky – that transports, on average, an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The incoming atmospheric river has been categorized as a “Pineapple Express,” a strong atmospheric river that is capable of bringing moisture from the tropics near Hawaii over to the U.S. West Coast.

Initial storm activity that moved into the region Wednesday has already dumped up to a foot of snow in parts of the Eastern Sierra, including above Big Pine Creek and South Lake. Aspendell has received 9.75 inches of snow as of today, and Rock Creek Lakes collected 11 inches.

The region has seen a bit of a reprieve the last two days, but should batten down the hatches in preparation for the atmospheric river moving in Sunday. Road crews from Inyo County and Caltrans, as well as first responders and local utilities, are on high alert.

Rain impacts will include flowing water in normally dry washes, flood channels, and low water crossings; ponding of water on roads and highways; localized rockslides in canyons and steep terrain; and extremely wet roads. Snowfall is expected to delay travel in some areas.

There is also elevated avalanche danger in upper elevations. “Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Our weak snowpack just received the most significant stress of the season,” the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center’s Friday forecast states. “While natural activity has become less likely, human-triggered avalanches remain likely. Avalanches failing in the new snow could be large and avalanches failing at the base of the snowpack have the potential to be very large and potentially deadly.”

In addition to heavy rain and snow, the storm is expected to bring wind gusts of up to 35-50 mph. With the winds comes the elevated possibility of power outages and travel restrictions on major highways.

The Eastern Sierra’s electricity providers, Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Department of Water, both have crews at the ready to respond to any outages that may result from windblown debris striking power lines, trees falling as a result of oversaturated soil, or even water intrusion.

LADWP’s Owens Valley customers can report power outages by dialing 1-800-992-8331 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.) and (833) 325-2397 after hours. SCE customers may report outages at 1-800-611-1911.

Both utilities urge extreme caution around downed power lines, dangling wires, or poles. Always assume a downed wire is live and never approach or touch it. Report downed lines immediately by calling 9-1-1.

Mikaela Torres, Inyo County Emergency Services Manager, emphasizes the importance of individual preparedness. “Given the unpredictable nature of severe weather events, individual preparedness is crucial. Being prepared not only ensures your safety but also contributes to the overall resilience of our community,” she said.

Following are safety tips for the upcoming storm, and for general emergencies year-round:

  • Stay Informed: Listen to radio and television, including NOAA Weather Radio if possible, and check trusted internet and social media sources.
  • Get to Higher Ground: If you live in a flood-prone area or are camping in a low-lying area, get to higher ground immediately.
  • Obey Evacuation Orders: If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Lock your home when you leave and if you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.
  • Obey Road Closures: Do not attempt to drive around road closures, which have put in place for your safety. Disobeying these closures put you, your family, and first responders at risk.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown: If you encounter significant water on the roadway, do not drive through. Just 12 inches of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away. It only takes 6 inches to knock you off your feet.
  • Keep Your Distance: If you see a downed power line, do not touch it or anything in contact with it. Stay at least 100 feet away and call 9-1-1 immediately. Downed wires can electrify puddles, wet grass, and the surrounding area. Never touch or step in water near a downed wire since it can be electrified. DO NOT enter any rooms or basements where electrical outlets or cords are submerged.
  • Prepare Now: Make a safety preparedness plan for your family including emergency items such as water bottles, flashlights, first-aid kits, extra blankets, etc.
    • Keep a flashlight and extra batteries nearby. Never use candles in a power outage or other emergency.
    • Keep your cellphone fully charged as your cordless “landline” may also lose
      connectivity during a storm. It will also enable you to access information online.
    • Keep a fully charged portable cell phone charger handy in case you need to charge any of your electronics while power is out.
  • Be Vigilant: Check on vulnerable friends and neighbors to make sure they are safe.


Sandbags are available at all local fire stations in Inyo County.
Road closure updates as well as links to key resources can be found at the Office of Emergency Service’s website,

Current weather updates can be found at:…

Individuals who do not have access to the internet and ability to use the Ready Inyo website are encouraged to call 2-1-1. This non-emergency phone service will provide information similar to what is maintained on the Ready Inyo website, as well as the ability to access other County resources via phone. Anyone seeking more information about the storm and storm response is urged to call this number – NOT 9-1-1, which is intended for life safety issues only.

Residents not currently signed up for CodeRED may do so at any time. It is the number one mechanism for informing residents during a local emergency or disaster. CodeRED is an opt-in, high-speed notification solution that quickly delivers emergency messages to targeted areas or the entire county. Because the notifications are geographically based, a street address is required to ensure emergency notification calls are received by the proper individuals in a given situation. If your cell phone number has changed, or you have moved, or if you are new to the area please register at:

IPAWS is FEMA’s national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio.

You will receive a CodeRED/IPAWS if the Sheriff’s Office determines that there is an imminent threat to life or safety. You will not receive a notification for non-emergent issues.

For the latest information on Caltrans road closures and other highway conditions, download the Quickmap app to your iOS or Android device or visit You can also call the Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).

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