South Lake Tahoe, Nevada Department of Transportation prepare for flooding |

South Lake Tahoe, Nevada Department of Transportation prepare for flooding

Autumn Whitney
Officials in South Lake Tahoe and throughout the region prepare for an approaching storm.
City of South Lake Tahoe

Approximately 6 to 8 inches of rainfall are expected in the Tahoe Basin between Sunday, Jan. 8, and Monday, Jan. 9, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The last two times the region saw this much precipitation in one go were in 2005 and 1997, the latter of which caused U.S. 50 to close at Spooner Summit when mudslides crossed all four lanes of traffic, and at Echo Summit as a result of rockslides.

City of South Lake Tahoe staff and Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) are at work clearing and plowing roads, and warning residents of flooding dangers.

While the upcoming storm is predicted to reach the same caliber as the two aforementioned, the region’s flood preparation approach has slightly changed.

“We’ve got some experience to learn from, and we have,” South Lake Tahoe Councilmember Tom Davis, who was mayor during the ’97 storm, said.

While clearing, salting and sanding roads date back to the 1997 storm, the biggest change in terms of preparation comes in the form of communication.

As a result of the flooding in the late ‘90s, a plan was implemented to activate an emergency center for public works officials and fire and police staff, and to improve communication.

“We respond and act, dispatching snowplows to critical areas so ambulances and fire trucks can get through to residential areas. We let the professionals do their jobs,” Davis explained.

Apart from increased communication, the city of South Lake Tahoe and transportation agencies such as NDOT will continue to prepare roads for the precipitation.

“Over the recent days, NDOT maintenance crews have been diligently clearing and plowing roads, as well as salting and sanding them for increased traction.

“As we look toward the potential of heavy rainfall in the coming week, they will also be focusing on clearing the drainage pipes near state roads and making sure they remain clear,” NDOT public information officer Meg Ragonese said.

In addition, the city of South Lake Tahoe urges residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary to go out, get sand bags before the storm, prepare for a utility outage and get all supplies prior to Saturday afternoon, keep roofs cleared and assist the city in clearing storm drains.

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