Truckee-Tahoe weather: Break before weekend storm could drop another couple feet of snow

Top of First Venture Chair at Palisades Tahoe early Wednesday morning.
Provided/Kyle Ellis/Palisades Tahoe

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The week-long series of storms is winding down at Truckee-Tahoe but left in its wake are road and school closures, and after a two-day break, another system is poised to enter the region this weekend that could kick off another round of snowy days.

All classes are canceled again Wednesday for Truckee-Tahoe schools except for Lake Tahoe Community College which plans to open at 10 a.m. with all classes scheduled before that canceled.

Multiple roads remain closed Wednesday morning, including Interstate 80, State Route 267 and Nevada State 431 and sections of State Route 89 and 88.

Before heading out, check road conditions by calling 511 or visiting or

Snow totals are staggering for this week’s storm. On Tuesday afternoon the National Weather Service in Reno said the series of storms have produced 5-9 feet at higher elevations and 2 to 5 feet for lake communities. 

The University of California, Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Laboratory near Donner Pass reported that nearly 41.7 feet, more than 500 inches, has fallen since October, more than in any snow year since 1970 and second only to the record of 66.7 feet in 1952, according to the Associated Press.

The Sierra snowpack provides about a third of the state’s water supply and the water content of the snowpack Tuesday was 186% of normal to date. It was 162% of the average on April 1, when it is historically at its peak, according to the state Department of Water Resources’ online data.

Tahoe ski resorts are digging out Wednesday morning with Kirkwood Mountain Resort expecting a late morning opening with only a few lifts operating. Palisades Tahoe, after being closed on Tuesday, will have limited operations. The resort received an additional 38 inches in the last 24 hours. 

Heavenly Mountain Resort, which received 2 feet in the last 24 hours, said, “4X4 with snow tires or tire chains are REQUIRED to access any of Heavenly’s base areas” and added that they are digging out lifts and have an estimated time of opening at 10 a.m.

The service said light snow showers could linger Wednesday mostly south of U.S. Highway 50 before diminishing this evening.

“As the winter storm center pulls further south, the Lake Tahoe Basin, south along the eastern Sierra into Mono County, as well as southern Lyon and Mineral counties will not only see brief periods of reduced visibility from showers, but also from periods of blowing snow from brisk northerly winds gusting at times to 40 mph,” the service said in its morning forecast discussion and added that sub-zero wind chills are possible at times across the Sierra.

Higher mountain locations could expect dangerously cold wind chills between minus-20 and minus-40 degrees on Thursday.

After a much needed break from snowy weather on Thursday and Friday, snow chances return this weekend. 

Gusty winds will return Saturday morning across Sierra ridges with wind gusts peaking at 100-plus mph in the afternoon and evening. The 40-50 mph gusts will likely impact small boats and bring choppy conditions to area lakes.

Periods of moderate to heavy snow may once again accumulate a couple more feet across the Sierra, the service said.

“Even though confidence for precipitation timing and coverage remains low at this time, ensemble guidance does show an upward trend for precipitation across the Sierra that carries into lower valley locations,” the service said.

Following the weekend, winter weather impacts look to continue into next week with more systems in the forecast.

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.