Heavy Tahoe rains force closure of U.S. 50, Mt. Rose Highway (update) | SierraSun.com

Heavy Tahoe rains force closure of U.S. 50, Mt. Rose Highway (update)

UPDATE: 4 p.m. Wednesday:

U.S. Highway 50 is completely closed near the Cave Rock area east of Lake Tahoe following three days in which large boulders fell onto the road, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced Wednesday afternoon.

Vehicles traveling in both directions were being turned around on opposite ends of the closure.

Travel had been reduced to one lane in each direction since Tuesday. However, after another "very large" boulder — the fifth in three days — fell into the eastbound lanes Wednesday, NDOT made the decision to close the highway, explained Meg Ragonese, NDOT public information officer.

The heavy rain over the past three days has soaked the basin and caused flooding and slides throughout the region.

No vehicles were involved in the U.S. 50 falls, which occurred near Logan Creek Drive north of Cave Rock, and no injuries were reported, according to NDOT.

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UPDATE: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday:

The Nevada Highway Patrol has closed Highway 431 (Mt. Rose Highway) at Tahoe Meadows/Sheeps Flat due to flooding in the roadway.

According to the agency, that stretch of the main highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe/Incline Village was closed in both directions at about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

It’s unclear as of late Wednesday morning when it will reopen.

Regional weather and law enforcement officials continue to warn locals and visitors to never attempt to drive into flooded areas, especially at night when the dangers of flooding are much more difficult to see.

The original story from Wednesday morning is below.


TRUCKEE, Calif. — Heavy rain, even torrential at times, will continue this week across the greater Tahoe-Truckee region, prompting officials to again warn residents and visitors about potential flooding dangers.

As of Tuesday afternoon, as much as 3-5 inches of rain had fallen in some Tahoe locations, coupled with wind gusts of more than 100 mph at higher elevations.

Anywhere from 1 to 2 feet of snow was recorded at higher elevations, but with the windy and moist conditions throughout the region, several ski resorts were forced to close or limit operations on Tuesday.

While conditions will decrease in intensity Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Reno has issued a flood watch for the region from Thursday morning through late Thursday night.

"Occasional light rain will continue (Wednesday) with streams running high," according to the NWS flood watch. "Another period of heavy rain is expected Thursday afternoon and Thursday night, with even higher flows and more flooding possible. Areas where snow has clogged drainage paths may remain flooded for longer periods of time. Rock and mud slides may also impact travel.

"The highest risk of flooding is along creeks, streams and poor drainage areas."

In what NWS calls the "final atmospheric river" to hit the region in this latest system, Thursday's storm will be of "moderate to strong" intensity, similar to the Monday/Tuesday system, with "heavy rainfall” occurring across an "intense 6-12 hour period."

Snow levels Thursday night are expected to start in the 8,000-9,000 foot range and fall to below 6,000 feet by Friday night, according to a longer-term forecast.

"A colder secondary front Friday afternoon should continue to push snow levels down to near 4,000 feet by Friday night,” according to NWS. "There could be enough moisture to bring a couple inches of snow down to the Tahoe basin and lighter amounts into the Sierra Foothills by Friday evening."

According to NWS, while the Truckee River's level will rise in the Truckee area, it's not expected to breach flood stage this week.

That said, locations that could experience minor flooding this week include: South Lake Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Emerald Bay, Sugar Pine Point, D.L. Bliss State Park, Meyers, Grover Hot Springs, Carnelian Bay, Woodfords and Truckee.

Meanwhile, residents of the southwest corner of the Donner Lake area of Truckee along the streets of Washoe Circle, Conifer Drive and parts of South Shore Drive are being asked to be wary of potential avalanche danger.

According to a statement Tuesday from the Truckee Police Department, potential avalanche danger in these areas is currently high in those areas, and "this danger is likely to persist for several days."

Residents should check with the Sierra Avalanche Center at http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org for updates.

Sandbag locations

In Truckee, free sand bags will be available to fill at Truckee Fire Station 92, located at 11473 Donner Pass Road, as well as the U.S. Forest Service Building at 10969 Stevens Lane. Click here to learn more.

In Incline Village, residents can get sandbags from all three North Lake Tahoe Fire stations — Station 11 at 875 Tanager St. in Incline; Station 12 at 14 Cal Neva Drive in Crystal Bay; and Station 13 at 965 Mt. Rose Highway (431) in Incline — and fill them from the sand pile at the Washoe County Maintenance Yard, located at the highway 431/28 intersection, north of the roundabout.

You can also get them at the following Placer County locations, and click here to learn more:

• Tahoe City: Placer County Department of Public Works Corp Yard, 2501 North Lake Blvd. (Burton Creek).

• Olympic Valley: Old Squaw Valley Fire Station, 1810 Squaw Valley Road (at west end of valley, near lifts).

• Northstar: Northstar Community Services District Corp Yard, 50 Trimont Lane (off Northstar Boulevard).

• Kings Beach: North Tahoe Fire Station 52, 288 North Shore Blvd. (Intersection of Highways 267/28). Homewood: North Tahoe Fire: Station 53, 5425 West Lake Blvd.

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