Let’s get ready to shovel | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Let’s get ready to shovel

Michael Schneider and Patrick McCartney

Holiday travelers will have to keep a close eye on the weather today and again on Sunday, as wintry storms are expected to blanket the basin with the season’s first major snowfall.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Tuesday night and today above 6,500, with up to 18 inches of snow forecast for the higher slopes and between 3 and 9 inches at lake level.

A storm expected to arrive when holiday travelers are returning could be as large or larger, said Doug Armstrong, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Reno.

“Travelers will have to stay up on the weather,” Armstrong said.

The snow level was expected to start out between 6,500 and 7,200 feet last night, but lower to lake level by noon, with heavy snow falling at times. Armstrong said the storm may turn out to be stronger than first forecast, because sub-tropical moisture has moved into the area ahead of the cold front.

But, as the coldest mass of air so far this season pushes into the Sierra, “it should change it to a winter type scene,” Armstrong said.

Lake Tahoe was hit by showers Monday night, with .31 inch of rain followed by a trace of wet snow.

The sparse but cold layer of snow and ice that greeted residents Tuesday morning was accompanied by more than a handful of low-impact spin outs across the South Shore.

Two non-injury accidents were reported to the California Highway Patrol and five more to the Nevada Highway Patrol.

“I’m sure there were some that weren’t reported, like someone hitting a guard rail,” said Nevada Trooper Brad Smith.

Smith offered some simple pointers for road travelers when dealing with icy conditions.

The golden rule for motorists is reduce speed, because most driving procedures, especially stopping, take longer distances to complete on slippery roads.

Smith also said drivers should use a larger than average following distance when negotiating icy and snowy conditions.

“You’re not going to get there faster than the person in front of you anyway,” said Smith.

Lastly, Smith urged road travelers to keep windshield washer fluid wells full of a cleaning substance. The salt and sand put onto roadways to melt frozen precipitation and force better traction easily gets sprayed onto windshields and reduces visibility. He said a motorist can use a full well in only a day’s traveling if conditions are poor.

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