Approaching storm upgraded, expected to dump 2 feet of snow at 7,000 feet around Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Daily Tribune staff report

The winter storm taking aim at Lake Tahoe has been upgraded to a winter storm warning.

Heavy snow and strong wind gusts are expected to reach the basin Tuesday afternoon and last until Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

The NWS is forecasting 8 to 18 inches at lake level, 1 to 2 feet above 7,000 feet and localized amounts up to 3 feet over the three-day period.

Wind gusts could reach up to 60 mph.

The cold nature of the storm will lead to snow accumulations at all elevations.

Heavenly Mountain Resort should open with a bang Wednesday. Even if the lifts are delayed due to snow, there will be powder turns to be had on the South Shore.

NWS said the worst driving conditions will be Tuesday through midday Wednesday. Blowing snow will further reduce visibility.

Traveling could take two to three times longer and getting stuck in the car for hours is possible.

The NWS suggests preparing for long delays and carry tire chains, an emergency kit with extra food, water and proper clothing. 

“Anyone traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday week should anticipate chain control requirements over the Sierra passes and allow extra travel time to reach their destination,” Caltrans District 3 spokesperson Steve Nelson told the Tribune. “We anticipate winter driving conditions with snow likely Tuesday and Wednesday and also a chance of snow on Thanksgiving. Motorists should always check conditions before they go, especially in the Sierra.”

Caltrans’ reminds drivers to carry chains in winter. Cars without four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive will be fined if they do not have chains on or in their cars during chain controls. 

Cars usually have about a mile between “Chains Required” signs and the checkpoint to install the chains. To put on and take off the chains, pull completely off the road. Once chains are on, the required speed is 25 to 30 miles an hour.

While driving in winter conditions, drive slower than usual, even if the speed limit is higher in normal conditions, keep windshields and windows clear, keep your gas tank full, keep a distance between the car in front of you and if you stall, stay with your car.

For those staying at, or coming to, Lake Tahoe this Thanksgiving, be prepared for power outages and have a backup plan.

The City of South Lake Tahoe also sent out an alert early Monday morning about the storm upgrade.

The latest road conditions can be found by calling 5-1-1.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.

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