Highway 50 reopened: Brunt of storm passes
The main artery that links the South Shore of Lake Tahoe to the West Slope was reopened Friday afternoon after closing Thursday night because of massive snow amounts and avalanche danger.
A break in the snow and blue skies enabled Caltrans to trigger avalanches and plow through Highway 50 at Echo Summit for holiday travel. Snow removal crews reported about 5-1/2 feet of snow on the highway at the summit.
Snow is expected to move back into the Lake Tahoe Basin beginning Friday night, with about 2 to 6 inches expected at South Lake Tahoe, said Brian O’Hara, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno.
The systems are not as big as the ones that pummeled the area Thursday night and early Friday morning. South Lake Tahoe received about 40 inches of snow from the storm, making for treacherous road conditions on an especially busy New Year’s holiday weekend.
Ski resorts report up to 6 to 8 feet of snow from the storms.
Another system will move into the area on Saturday, bringing another 2 to 6 inches and yet another system is expected to move in Sunday, with up to a foot of snow expected at lake level.
No major injury accidents in the basin were reported by the California and Nevada highway patrols, South Lake Tahoe police department and the Douglas County sheriff’s office, but there were a number of fender benders and spinouts.
“There’s a heck of a lot of traffic out there,” said Steve Fleischmann, an El Dorado County deputy who began his shift at about 6 a.m. Friday. “My advice to motorists is to take it slow.”
Snow berms have mounted along Highway 50 through the South Shore, in some places as high as 8 feet. Caltrans reports all its plows are in full operation and 25 dump trucks being used to remove the snow, which numbers between 3,500 and 5,000 tons per hour.
“We will continue to be working until it gets to the point where we are causing problems with traffic,” said Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger, referring to the onslaught on traffic into the Stateline area for the New Year’s Eve celebration.
With the berm situation, Dinger said crews are making progress with it.
“They are attacking it right now. The goal is to get it as level as we can as even more traffic arrives. The problem is we have to have a balance between removing the berm and staying out of the way,” he said.
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