Basin is ice blue |

Basin is ice blue

Susan Wood

Down – the feathers and the temperatures – may be the word this week to describe a bitter cold snap anticipated for Lake Tahoe.

The National Weather Service predicted Sunday the basin would flirt with a record cold overnight low into this morning. Temperatures may drop to 5 degrees below zero by this morning and may hover around zero Tuesday morning, too.

Meteorologist Gina Beninato reported the record Monday morning was set in 1975 at 4 degrees, while Tuesday’s is 6 degrees, established in 1931.

“We have the potential for two record breakers this week. It’s going to be bitterly cold,” Beninato said from her Reno office.

The skies will be clear, one reason for the colder-than-normal temperatures. The averages for this time of year run 24 and 23 degrees, respectively.

Wednesday will warm up a bit, but don’t put the down jacket away too soon. Temperatures should nudge up to the teens, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation.

That moisture will fail to meet the amount of rain and snow a strong Pacific Coast storm brought into the Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada Friday night and Saturday.

Up to 18 inches of snow fell at elevations above 8,000 feet, with forecasters caught a little by surprise by the amounts.

At lake level, 1 foot of the fresh stuff blanketed the basin, making skiers and boarders seeking more snow on the slopes thankful for Mother Nature’s harvest over a busy Thanksgiving holiday.

At Heavenly Mountain Resort on Sunday morning, many were bundled up in heavy layers in anticipation of frosty temperatures on the hill.

Westbound traffic crawled for hours over Echo Summit Saturday night. Then, another wave of travelers creeped through town heading west at midday Sunday.

The snowfall created a bit of a windfall for ski resorts and hotels enjoying longer stays from visitors deciding to wait out the storm.

Richard Bodine at Inn By the Lake said the midtown hotel had at least 10 people check out on Sunday instead of Saturday to wait out the storm.

“We’re really pleased (with the holiday),” he said.

But those who bailed early had a day’s worth of travel to contend with to get back to the Bay Area, with reports of the drive from Tahoe to San Francisco taking 8 hours.

Spinouts had the California Highway Patrol hopping, with a few motorists even sliding into Caltrans vehicles, an officer reported Sunday.

Heading east posed a different challenge.

The Reno/Tahoe International Airport reported an equipment malfunction Saturday that canceled or delayed 69 flights and shut down operations from 6 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.

Representatives from the South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe-Douglas chambers of commerce cited no specific holdovers in the basin from the airport flaw.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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