Lake Tahoe weather: Use extreme caution driving during holiday weekend |

Lake Tahoe weather: Use extreme caution driving during holiday weekend

A helpful graphic to determine if your car is winter-ready.
Courtesy Caltrans

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Caltrans is alerting motorists traveling in the Sierra foothills, mountain areas or over the Donner or Echo summits to be prepared for winter driving conditions, especially at the higher elevations and in the Lake Tahoe Basin this weekend.

Motorists should also expect delays caused by increased traffic congestion from additional motorists traveling to the mountains during the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

The National Weather Service forecast for sunny and partly sunny conditions in the Sierra for Friday, Jan. 13, and through the weekend — that, combined with record amounts of new snowfall this week, will result in heavy traveling to mountain areas for recreation.

Motorists are encouraged to slow down and use extra caution on bridges, ramps, shaded areas and after sunset.

Additionally, while heavily traveled roadways may be free of snow, other roads will still be snow-covered and chain restrictions may be in force.

And according to officials, due to all the snow, some side streets remained unplowed even as late as Friday morning.

Motorists are required to carry chains even if driving a four- or all-wheel drive vehicle with mud + snow rated tires.

Motorists traveling on U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit, or other Tahoe Basin/Sierra area roadways, may be held intermittently for avalanche control. Highway 89 over Emerald Bay is currently closed due to avalanche hazards. Traffic on Interstate 80, or highways 267 or 89, may also be held intermittently to clear any traffic incidents.

Caltrans snow removal and winter roadway operations will continue through the weekend. Motorists are instructed to keep a safe distance between their vehicle and Caltrans equipment and only pass when the whole roadway ahead is visible.

These and other winter driving tips, can be found at including:


  • Replace the wiper blades and fill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir; be sure to use a winter formula to help de-ice windshields.
  • If traveling to higher elevations, carry tire chains correctly size for your tires, in good working order and practice installing the chains before needing to use them.
  • Have a full tank of fuel before traveling in case of delays.


  • Have blankets, extra clothing, food and water, towels, a shovel, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small bag of sand or kitty litter and road flares.
  • Have a fully charged cell phone before leaving and carry a car charger.


  • Turn on headlights to see and be seen and turn off cruise control.
  • Avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually.
  • Keep additional distance from other vehicles and do not tailgate.



  • Allow for extra travel time or delay your travel until conditions or congestion improves.
  • Make sure you share the route you intend to take with friends or family. Using GPS to find alternate routes may lead to unplowed roadways or hazardous areas.
  • Exercise patience and respect for other motorists.

Motorists are urged to be “Be Work Zone Alert” and to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

This article was provided by Caltrans; the Sierra Sun’s staff contributed to this report.

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