Snowstorm delivers for Truckee area ski resorts |

Snowstorm delivers for Truckee area ski resorts

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
A motorist apparently lost control of his vehicle, which ended up in a ditch off Donner Trail Road in Truckee.

A fast-moving storm on Sunday, Feb. 18, dropped a few inches of snow on local ski resorts, and created havoc on local roads as motorists tried to leave the Truckee area on Presidents Day weekend.

The westbound side of Interstate 80 was backed up for miles east of Boreal Ski Resort, largely because vehicles were being turned around at Donner Lake Interchange because of numerous spinouts, the California Department of Transportation said.

At one point, the line of vehicles extended well past the Donner Pass Road turnoff for Truckee.

Westbound motorists were also lined up for about a mile on Donner Pass Road, as they attempted to access the interstate near the on-ramp across from the Shell service station in the 12000 block of the road.

Motorists attempting to get to Tahoe Donner found some relief by accessing Donner Trail Road, and then making their way up to Northwoods Boulevard via side streets.

But one motorist who was heading down Donner Trail Road toward Donner Pass Road earlier Sunday evening apparently lost control of the vehicle he was driving, and ended up in a ditch near the Aspens at Truckee apartment complex entrance.

The motorist said he was not injured, and was waiting for a tow truck to pull his small-sized car out of the ditch. But the car was still in the ditch as of Monday morning, Feb. 19.

The havoc was caused by a storm that came down along British Columbia and into Oregon before making its way to California. The storm was powered by winds that exceeded 50 mph in the Tahoe Basin, and hit 99 mph on Mount Rose.

“It was just kind of a typical winter storm that was dropping down. It had a really strong cold front with it,” said Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Reno, on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

“It was a broad trough of low pressure across the western United States.”

While the storm made for dodgy travel conditions, it proved beneficial for local ski resorts. Northstar California Resort in Truckee said it received 5 inches of fresh powder.

“The boost from Mother Nature in combination with Northstar’s snowmaking capabilities is making for great conditions,” said Stephanie Myers, communications specialist for Northstar California Resort, on Tuesday.

“People are almost skipping through the Village excited to catch the gondola — there’s a visible stoke in the air.”

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in Olympic Valley said it received 6 inches of snow from the storm.

“With six inches of fresh snow, cold temperatures expected through the week and more storms in the forecast, the conditions at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are great. Our groomed slopes are skiing excellent with chalky snow and the cold nights are optimal for snowmaking,” said Sam Kieckhefer, spokesperson for Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, on Tuesday.

The biggest beneficiary in the area appeared to be Boreal Ski Resort, which said it received 8 inches of snow. And there appears to be more on the way. A similar amount of snow could fall on Thursday, Feb. 22.

“Still showing signs of a disturbance moving across the region on Thursday,” McGuire said. “It’s quick moving. The cold air is already in place. Snow levels are down.”

Staff Writer Wyatt Haupt Jr. can be reached at 530-550-2652 or via email 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.