Emergency measures alleviate traffic overnight in South Lake Tahoe; cars back on road this morning

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – While emergency measures overnight made a dent in the traffic problem, cars are still backed up this morning, attempting to get home.

Officials are asking people not to travel unless they absolutely have to.
Screenshot of road cameras

Nevada Department of Transportation and Nevada State Police set up a checkpoint at the base of Spooner last night at 8:30 p.m. to turn non-essential traffic away from traveling westbound.

They let residents with identification through but turned all others away.

“Following emergency alerts issued last night for public safety, many drivers traveling westbound on U.S. 50 rerouted to safer valley locations. By approximately midnight, the existing traffic queue on U.S. 50 dissipated,” a NDOT spokesperson told the Tribune. “This helped protect public safety and allowed NDOT highway maintenance staff to plow and treat the U.S. 50 highway surface which had previously been gridlocked and inaccessible to plow operations. NDOT also mobilized highway maintenance staff from valley locations not impacted by the storm to assist with snow removal on U.S. 50.”

The City of South Lake Tahoe activated an Emergency Operations Center Tuesday evening which city officials believe made a difference.

“It gave the road on the California side through South Lake Tahoe a chance to clear up overnight. We expect it to back up again due to continued snow and strongly discourage travel today,” said Lindsey Baker, Assistant to the City Manager.

Governor Steve Sisolak, who declared a State of Emergency last night, tweeted out this morning, “I want to thank all of our first responders and emergency officials who worked diligently through challenging conditions overnight (and for most of the last week) to ensure our roadways and motorists are safe.”

Interstate 80 opened last night to essential commercial vehicles, alleviating some of the stress on Hwy 50.

While the measures last night were an effort to prevent people being stuck in their cars overnight in freezing conditions, snow continues to fall this morning and visitors still want to get home.

Traffic is still backed up on Hwy 50 through South Lake Tahoe.

“Plow operations will continue 24/7 with full staffing, but the more traffic is on the road, the more challenging and longer it takes for us to clear the roads,” the city posted on their Facebook.

A winter weather advisory is still in place until 10 p.m. Wednesday Dec. 29, and South Lake Tahoe has already received several inches of snow.

A statement from the National Weather Service Wednesday morning said, “Snow showers are arriving in the Sierra with some light showers for western NV by sunrise. Take the AM and PM commutes slow today. Slick roads and icy conditions will be possible today.”

Mt. Rose Highway reopened on Tuesday after being closed for several days. However, a commercial vehicle, which wasn’t allowed to travel on the road, got stuck on Wednesday morning. NHP officers are directing traffic around the vehicle but traffic is backed up.

“While U.S. 50, State Routes 28 and 207 in Nevada are currently open for travel, with chains required on all vehicles except 4-wheel drive with snow tires, non-essential travel is not advised in the area due to storm-related adverse driving conditions,” NDOT said. “Weather and travel conditions can change quickly, and motorists are advised to check with local authorities and for current conditions, road closures and safety information.”

NHP reiterated that no commercial vehicles are allowed on Mt. Rose Highway at this time.

Check road conditions at and

Laney Griffo is a staff writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User