Lake Tahoe weather: Incline officials urge residents to be prepared | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe weather: Incline officials urge residents to be prepared

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Local residents are bracing for yet another storm after a series of weather events last week dumped multiple feet of snow around the lake and left thousands of residents without power.

A winter weather advisory issued by the National Weather Service's Reno branch that began Wednesday for the Incline-Tahoe-Truckee region was expected to expire early Thursday morning. Eight to 16 inches of snow above 7,000 feet was forecast, with as much as 2 feet possible across higher Sierra peaks.

It's the first in a series of storms to hit the Sierra this week, with more snow expected Friday-Saturday, and then Sunday-Monday. In all, the Tahoe region could see up to 5 or more feet of snow by next week.

With this much snow already on the ground — as much as 15 or more feet since Jan. 1 — and more in the forecast, it's important for residents to be prepared for emergency situations, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Ryan Sommers said Wednesday.

He encourages residents to sign up through http://www.readywashoe.com for regional weather alerts, and to visit the web page for valuable information about storm preparation, emergency orders and more.

While flooding isn't expected to be an issue this weekend in Incline, some pooling on roads and in areas may occur, he said.

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Residents can get sandbags from all three NLTFPD 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.

IMPORTANT TO STAY INFORMED

Aside from flooding, avalanche dangers will likely increase with more snow this weekend, although Sommers said it's not likely the situation will be as dire as last week's storm, when officials declared a snow emergency for parts of Incline and advised Crystal Bay residents to stay in their homes due to extreme slide danger there.

Thankfully, no major injuries in the area were reported, and no avalanches were recorded.

Sommers said he spoke with county officials about possibly opening an emergency shelter (at either the IVGID Recreation Center or Incline High School), but due to the threat to human safety, he said the safest call was for Crystal Bay residents to shelter in place.

"I may have been meeting some resistance on that, but I will handle those conversations on a one-on-one basis," he said Wednesday. "… We are not anticipating any additional elevation of avalanche warnings, but if that changes, we will keep the citizens informed through the (Sierra) Avalanche Center and Washoe County."

Aside from government websites, residents are encouraged to follow NLTFPD or Washoe County on their Twitter and Facebook social media outlets.

"It's important to verify," Sommers stressed about social media in general. "In the time of disaster or elevated weather incidents, following social media from trusted sources, such as state, federal and local government, is imperative."

Residents can also call the non-emergency number 775-337-5800 to report non-life-threatening events or incidents, such as low hanging power lines and downed trees.

SPEAKING OF POWER LINES…

During last week's storm, anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 customers in Incline-Crystal Bay lost power at times, Chris Hofmann, NV Energy Director of Delivery Operations, said Wednesday.

Power went out for many customers at 11 p.m. on Jan. 10, "and it really started to pick up from there, we saw a jump tremendously right around 5 p.m. on (Jan. 11)," Hofmann said, after fallen trees and other issues led to failures at the NV Energy's main electricity substation on Sweetwater Road — and from there, to various circuits throughout town.

"There were trees down all over the place, broken poles, cars crashed in the poles … it was hectic, period," Hofmann said, adding that power was completed restored to nearly all customers by Jan. 14.

In all, roughly 40 NV Energy employees from Reno and Carson City, as well as the company's two staffers who live in Incline, worked across those four days to restore power.

Once finished in Incline, Hofmann said some of those crews moved across the state line to help Liberty Utilities staff in restoring power to the thousands of Tahoe residents in California who also lost power last week.

In order to stay informed in the event of future power outages, Incline-Crystal Bay residents are encouraged to visit NV Energy's outage map website at http://www.nvenergy.com/outage, or call the 24-hour customer service line at 775-834-4444. You can also follow the company's posts on Twitter and Facebook.