Here comes the sun; It’s all right
Tahoe residents can expect a reprieve from the weather as a massive storm systems carries its turmoil eastward.
“It should be pretty nice for the next couple days,” said Tom Cylke, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
Another system could bring snow on Saturday, “but we’re not expecting too much out of it.”
Cylke reported midday Tuesday that the back side of the storm should pass through the area late afternoon with scattered snow showers expected through Tuesday night.
But not before dumping several more feet of snow and putting a messy halt to business as usual.
Oasis Aviation reported 9 to 10 inches between 9 a.m. and noon. Monday night wet snow fell, leaving 8 inches that contained 2.27 inches-worth of water.
The largest storm of the season was expected to easily leave behind at least 4 to 6 feet at lake level and 6 to 8 feet at higher elevations, Meteorologist Cylke said.
The wet snow fell steady and hard on Tuesday, keeping well ahead of human efforts to keep it cleared.
Law enforcement officials described Kingsbury Grade as a “skating rink.” Even four-wheel drives with snow tires were no match for the elements.
In the morning, at least three cars slid into the intersection and each other, adding to the hazard. No injuries were reported, according to Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Lance Mosdispacher, but the Douglas County Sheriffs Office closed the route to everyone, including residents, by 11:30 a.m.
“Heavy snow and wind are making driving conditions impossible,” Mosdispacher said. “This closure will remain in effect until snow removal equipment can keep up with the snowfall.”
The Sheriff’s office called in a search-and-rescue snowcat to provide emergency access until the highway could be cleared enough to let people get home.
The California side of South Shore experienced similar hazards.
“People are all over in ditches,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Gwaltney. “We’re extremely busy. We’re just trying to get them to safety.”
Gwaltney said that U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit closed early Tuesday morning due to avalanche danger and poor visibility.
State Route 88 was also closed to Kirkwood and State Route 89 closed around Emerald Bay. Other summits around the lake required chains or snow tires in between intermittent closures.
The roads through town were also hazardous limiting bus routes for the city STAGE buses.
“We are running,” said Chris Knight, STAGE operations manager. “We had to get off of the side streets because the buses were getting stuck.”
The main bus routes on Pioneer Trail, Ski Run and U.S. Highway 50 continued to operate, though conditions made maintaining schedules impossible.
“There is no schedule. The buses are going back and forth on the routes,” Knight said.
Once the snow plows catch up with the snowfall, normal bus service will resume, he said.
Tuesday afternoon, the power supply was doing better than the highways. No outages had been reported.
“We’re doing pretty good today,” said Rick Madrid, Sierra’s public information officer. “(Monday night) we had a couple areas out that were back up by midnight.”
With heavy snow continuing Tuesday throughout the day, Madrid cautioned that the good luck might not last.
Many ski resorts started the day open. Decreasing visibility forced Heavenly Ski Resort to close at noon.
Sierra-at-Tahoe remained “kind of” open with limited lifts, said Nancy Harrison, Sierra’s public relations coordinator.
“There’s only 32 skiers on the mountain,” she said.
A recorded message at Kirkwood Ski Resort described high winds, limited visibility and 7 feet of new snow.
“Wednesday looks like the day,” said the recording. With “unbelievable” ski conditions.
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Update 9:15 a.m. — Power has been restored to about 3,700 customers, according to the Liberty Utilities outage map.