Let it snow, let it snow: first big dump of 2001 leaves up to 6 feet
Several feet of snow hit the Truckee area this weekend in a three-day-long dump of powder, which left ski resorts rejoicing and motorists driving with extreme caution.
This latest winter windfall boosted the Tahoe snowpack by 10 to 20 percent, which had been 40 percent to 50 percent of normal before the snowfall.
“It’s still going to be below normal,” National Weather Service meteorologist Danny Mercer said.
Regardless, the weather bureau reported as much as 6 feet in the elevations above 7,200 feet, where 50 mph wind gusts also swept mountain ridges.
At lake level, the bureau said 20 inches fell over the weekend, with Incline Village picking up 7 inches in a six-hour period Friday night.
Interstate 80 was closed over Donner Summit for nearly an hour due to low visibility on Saturday.
The next day, traffic on I-80 crawled in the westbound lanes, until California Highway Patrol officers held and escorted motorists from Truckee to Yuba Gap down Donner Pass to avoid accidents.
To avoid adding to the congestion on I-80, big rig trucks were barred from going over Donner Summit on Sunday evening.
Congestion also led Highway 89 South to be totally gridlocked for hours Sunday afternoon.
Aside from a few spinouts and slides into snowbanks all over the Lake Tahoe Basin, no major weather-related accidents were reported as of Sunday evening, according to both California and Nevada highway patrols.
“We’re doing whatever we can to slow people down,” CHP Public Affairs Officer Todd Kettwig said.
A winter storm warning remained in effect through the weekend for much of the northern Sierra Nevada. Chains or snow tires were required on most Tahoe highways, including Highway 50, I-80 and state highways 28, 207 over the Kingsbury Grade and 89 from Tahoma to D.L Bliss State Park.
Many ski areas reported 2- to 3-feet of new snow during the three-day storm, with Alpine Meadows boasting 60 inches total on the North Shore and Heavenly receiving 30 inches in South Lake Tahoe.
“Everybody’s having a great time,” Molly Cuffe of Heavenly said of the powder conditions. “This is definitely the first storm in a long time that is making the conditions much better.”
Scattered snow showers are being called for this weekend, although nothing like last weekend’s accumulation is expected.
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