Storm update: Union Pacific train derails, stuck at Soda Springs

A Union Pacific train derailed and became stuck in the snow at Soda Springs while attempting to clear the tracks.
Courtesy of California Highway Patrol – Truckee

A Union Pacific train derailed and became stuck at Soda Springs today while attempting to clear the tracks of snow.

“It looks like just part of the wheels actually pushed off the track, which is actually the more common type of derailment,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Pete Mann.

“That’s one of their bigger plow trains, and they were basically trying to clear the tracks with that so they can get trains running over. The railway has really been at a standstill the last day or so. The rotary plows are firing up tomorrow and they’ll be coming up.”

The latest storm to hit the region has blanketed the Sierra Nevada with heavy, wet snow, resulting in travel delays, avalanches and a lengthy closure of Interstate 80 in both directions from Colfax to the Nevada state line. As of noon Wednesday, there is no estimated time of reopening for Interstate 80.

“What’s happening is the snow walls are so tall, they’re having to throw the snow across the freeway, and then that’s triggering a bunch of avalanches. And so, they have to come back through and cut them again. It’s a big mess … even though it doesn’t feel like it in town, it is absolutely buried up top,” said Mann.

“We want to advise everybody to be patient and we’ll get the freeway open as soon as we can. Heading toward the weekend we are expecting more snow. Have patience and be ready for controls and winter drivers.”

A winter storm warning remains in effect for Truckee and the greater Lake Tahoe area, according to the National Weather Service Office in Reno, until 4 a.m. Thursday.

“A lull in heavier snowfall is expected from late Wednesday morning into Wednesday evening before heavier snow develops again Wednesday night,” the weather service posted in its storm warning.

An additional 3-8 inches of snow is forecast for elevations below 7,000 feet, and 8-16 inches is expected at higher elevations in the Sierra. Wind gusts of up to 45 mph are forecast, and gusts of around 100 mph are expected along Sierra ridges.

Snow totals

Record snowfall continues to accumulate at local resorts.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows announced yesterday it had surpassed its snowfall record of 282 inches set January 2017 at Squaw’s upper mountain.

Squaw Valley was since had another 20 inches of snow accumulate, pushing the resort past the 300-inch mark for the month. Squaw has also surpassed the previous February snowfall record by more than 100 inches.

“This storm came in warmer, and therefore wetter than our earlier storms this month. The snow is heavy, and the snow levels are currently fluctuating, contributing to mixed conditions of rain and wet snow at the base,” said Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Public Relations Coordinator Alex Spychalsky in an email.

“These conditions also create high avalanche danger, which impacts our operations as crews work to dig out lifts, cut new access roads and conduct avalanche control. Guests should check the Squaw Alpine app for real-time updates on lift and terrain status.”

Castle Peak has been walloped with 36 inches of snow in the last 24 hours, according to the weather service, for a two-day total of 48 inches. Castle Peak has seen 425 inches of snow during February compared to 669 inches for the entire 2017-18 winter season.

Boreal Mountain California was hit with 26 inches of snow since yesterday for a two-day total of 55 inches. Nearby, Sugar Bowl received 26 inches of snow in the past 24 hours for a two-day total of 54 inches.

Northstar California Resort picked up another 16 inches for a storm total of 36 inches. Tahoe Donner also received 16 inches in the past 24 hours.

Tahoe City reported 13 inches of new snow this morning for a storm total of 19 inches.

Around the lake, Homewood Mountain Resort gained a foot of new snow, Diamond Peak Ski Resort received 10 inches of snow, and Heavenly Mountain Resort picked up 2 inches of snow.

Snow Hazards

The National Weather Service Office in Reno issued a warning in regard to the increased risk of snow shedding from roofs in the Sierra, also known as “roofalanches,” which can cause serious injury or death.

The weather service also warned that carbon monoxide poisoning could occur if vents become clogged. Residents should have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Avalanche danger in the area is high today, according to the Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee, near the tree line and above. Natural and human triggered avalanche activity is expected.

For the center’s daily forecast visit,

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.