Lake-effect storm blows into town
Falling snow, icy roads and low visibility caused a number of vehicle accidents Wednesday afternoon.
Shortly before 4 p.m. and throughout the hour, dispatchers were summoning medics, fire engines and authorities to accidents along Lake Tahoe Boulevard from Heavenly Village to Sawmill Pond.
The phrases over the radio used by law enforcement underscored the steadiness of the snowfall: “Don’t know if extrication is needed,” “Man down” and “We have many (traffic collisions) at this time.”
A man was taken to the hospital by ambulance with an ankle injury after he was struck by a car on Lake Parkway a little after 4 p.m., South Lake Tahoe police said. The man was exchanging information from another accident when he was struck.
South Lake Tahoe police Lt. Marty Hale reported 12 accidents in the three hours after 2 p.m. All were non-injury except for the one on Lake Parkway.
“I think it’s because it got real slick out there,” Hale said.
Justin Child, an engineer with Lake Valley Fire Protection District, said at 5:15 p.m. crews responded to four accidents within an hour or so.
“The roads are extremely icy,” Child said. “People are driving too fast for the conditions and they’re paying the price for it.”
The storm had an unusual component to it, according to the Reno-based National Weather Service. While not solely a lake-effect phenomenon, it certainly contributed to the unusual weather in which heavy snow fell in isolated areas amid otherwise clear skies.
A lake-effect storm happens when Tahoe waters become warm and collide with cold air, basically causing their own weather system, said forecaster Jon Bonk.
On the East Shore of Lake Tahoe, it was mostly sunny on Wednesday, but on the West and South shores, about 3 inches of snow fell and it was mainly cloudy through the remainder of the day.
The high at the Lake Tahoe Airport on Wednesday was 25 degrees. The low this morning will come around the time people are waking up, with a temperature expected around 6 degrees, Bonk said.
Forecasters are watching a storm that could arrive Friday night into Saturday and bring a significant storm, Bonk said. However, there is a chance that it may not materialize.
Cold weather, though, is expected through the weekend, with highs in the 20s and lows in the single-digits and teens, Bonk said.
– Tribune City Editor Jeff Munson contributed to this report.
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