November 30, 2012 | Back to: News

Storms topple trees, but few major problems reported

Wild weather knocked down trees, led to numerous spinouts on area roads and raised the possibility of flooding, but caused few major problems at the South Shore on Friday, according to area public safety representatives.

Eric Guevin, spokesman for Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, said the agency responded to numerous reports of crashes involving cars sliding on slick roadways Friday, but the number of accidents was typical of what the district anticipates during winter storms.

The driver of a vehicle involved in a rollover on lower Kingsbury Grade late Friday morning was uninjured, according to the spokesman. Road conditions likely contributed to the crash, Guevin said.

Boulders fell from rain-soaked hillsides onto both U.S. Highway 50 and Kingsbury Grade Friday. Highway 88 at Carson Pass was closed for much of the day due to low visibility. Carson Spur, on the west side of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, was also closed briefly for avalanche control. Both Carson Pass and Carson Spur were open to vehicle traffic as of 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Lake Valley Fire Protection District spokeswoman Leona Allen said the district also received numerous calls about spinouts, but the number of calls for service was in line with what the agency would expect.

"Yesterday we had a couple of trees fall on power lines, but other than that it hasn't been too bad," Allen said.

Several residents reported wind had knocked down trees at the South Shore. One tree felled by wind landed on a boat on Shady Lane, breaking the vessel's mast.

The National Weather Service in Reno recorded gusts of 122 mph at the summit of Alpine Meadows near midnight Friday. Sustained winds of more than 70 mph were recorded at the weather station.

Winds of about 30 mph, and gusts of up to 55 mph, are expected in South Lake Tahoe late Saturday through late Sunday afternoon.

Liberty Utilities reported several small power outages due to falling trees and limbs Thursday, but no major problems at the South Shore Friday.

More wind and precipitation are expected through the weekend.

"The main event is tomorrow night," Liberty Utilities Business Manager Randy Kelly said Friday.

Saturday and Sunday's storm is expected to be the wettest, and warmest, of the past few days, with snow levels climbing as high as 10,000 feet, according to an advisory from the Sierra Avalanche Center.

"Very heavy precipitation and strong winds will continue Saturday through Sunday," according to a separate advisory from the Weather Service. "Minor to major flooding is possible Sunday through Tuesday on area rivers due to the very heavy rainfall expected over the weekend."

South Lake Tahoe road crews responded to several reports of flooded areas Friday and were working to clear storm drains, said police Lt. David Stevenson.

About 10 people have called regarding the availability of sand bags, Allen said. The calls were largely from people living near creeks or streams preparing for the possibility of being inundated, Allen said.

Sand bags are available at the district's station on Keetak Street in Meyers, as well as at South Lake Tahoe Fire Department's Station 3 at 2101 Lake Tahoe Blvd. and Bijou Community Park located at 1201 Al Tahoe Blvd.

"Major flooding" is forecast for the Truckee River near Truckee from late Saturday night into Monday morning, according to a warning issued by the Weather Service about 9:45 a.m. Friday. The Truckee area is the lone region where major flooding is forecast, according to the agency, although moderate or minor flooding is possible with the Truckee River in Reno and in other areas in the Reno/Sparks, Carson City and Minden/Gardnerville areas.

Three to 5 inches of rain are possible in the Lake Tahoe Basin, with amounts of up to 7 inches possible west of Highway 89, according to the weather service.

As of Friday evening, Kirkwood Mountain Resort was reporting 2 feet of snow had fallen at the resort in the past 48 hours. Sierra-at-Tahoe was reporting 19 inches from the series of storms, while Heavenly Mountain Resort was reporting a storm total of 11 inches.

Another, weaker, system is expected to move into the Lake Tahoe region by Wednesday, bringing another chance of precipitation.

- Lake Tahoe Sierra Sun editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this story.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 30, 2012 09:25PM Published Nov 30, 2012 03:04PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.