Lake Tahoe weather: ‘It’s going to be crazy’ this weekend as region digs out
TRUCKEE, Calif. — “Snow equity” is the term industry pros use to refer to the hype generated on places like Instagram to drum up excitement over snowfall, and therefore increased ski resort visitation. And it’s all over the internet right now.
But as the storm finally clears Lake Tahoe and Truckee and resorts gear up for a busy holiday weekend, some parts of the community are still without electricity and recovering from the recent weather.
“It’s going to be crazy up there,” Caltrans spokesperson Liza Whitmore told the Sierra Sun Friday.
Because the region experienced so much snowfall over such a short period of time, she said drivers should still be prepared for winter driving conditions even after the storm ends.
“Because there was so much snow, while the roads are showing some blacktop, they’re still covered with slushy snow,” she said. “As the temperature drops, those roads will get very icy.”
Whitmore said drivers should bring chains, because even if chain controls are lifted on Interstate 80, local highways may still require them. She also said drivers should bring plenty of food and water, a full tank of gas, and extra patience.
“There’s going to be thousands of extra people on the road,” she said.
Placer County spokesperson DeDe Cordell said that many parts of the region might not yet be fully plowed, like some of the residential communities that short-term rentals, such as AirBnB properties, may be located.
“That whole community has basically been sheltering in place for the last three days,” she said.
Cordell warned that many businesses might not yet be fully operational, since employees may face challenges in getting to work, and delivery trucks have not been able to access the area in recent days.
“North Tahoe is in storm recovery mode,” she said in an email statement Thursday afternoon.
According to the statement, Placer County officials are welcoming visitors to the Lake Tahoe region this weekend, but they warn the region is still recovering from the storm and that many access challenges exist.
“As of Thursday, there are still significant safety issues remaining in Tahoe,” said the county’s deputy chief executive officer for Lake Tahoe, Jennifer Merchant, in the statement. “But it’s also access challenges that people should be aware of. Many residential streets have limited access. With 10 feet of snow plowed up on either side, many roads are down to one lane. It will be a beautiful holiday weekend, but it may take us a few days to truly dig ourselves out of this storm and get back to normal.”
The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s weekly lodging forecast shows that local lodging property properties are expected to be 87 percent occupied on Saturday.
“We anticipate this weekend being one of our busier weekends of the year so far,” said Sugar Bowl Resort Director of Marketing Jon Slaughter in an email.
The resort reported receiving 15.9 feet of snow in the month of January alone, with 103 inches recorded in the latest storm as of Thursday afternoon.
“I-80 has reopened, and we’re supposed to see a break in the weather this weekend, which should allow people to get here,” Slaughter said. “Our team has been working hard to reopen the mountain, and we anticipate having the majority of our terrain open in time for the weekend, which will make for epic skiing and riding.”
Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said that although the town was considering as of Thursday afternoon declaring a state of an emergency for damages caused by the recent blizzard, he’s not worried about potential holiday weekend traffic.
“I think things are pretty much back to normal now, so I’d expect everyone’s geared up for what I’m expecting is going to be a pretty darn good weekend,” he said.
He explained that the town’s consideration of a possible state of emergency is geared toward helping repair road damage caused by the snow and rain event this past Sunday. He said the town declared a state of emergency following the storm events of 1997 and 2005, but this year the damage wasn’t as extensive.
“We’re totally focused on getting residential streets in shape,” he said. “That doesn’t have a huge impact on visitors.”
A spokesperson for the Sierra Avalanche Center said that overall, avalanche risk should decrease over the weekend. Stay up to date by checking sierraavalanchecenter.org.
Liberty Utilities, the region’s largest electricity provider, did not return the Sun’s request for comment about holiday traffic and outages before this story’s Thursday afternoon deadline.
Before heading out to the slopes this weekend, you can check with Caltrans about road conditions online at quickmap.dot.ca.gov.
Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 530-550-2653 or @akrhoades.
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