More than 2 feet of heavy, high elevation snow possible at Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After unwrapping the warmest day of the season on Christmas Sunday, active weather returns to Lake Tahoe.

A series of storms is forecast to last through the New Years holiday weekend with the first system Monday through Wednesday bringing gusty winds, heavy, high elevation snow, valley rain and widespread travel and recreation issues.

For the Christmas weekend, dry and mild conditions will prevail with valley inversions producing areas of haze especially in urban areas, and patchy nighttime and morning freezing fog in fog-prone Sierra valleys, the National Weather Service in Reno said in a special statement. The high on Sunday will be in the mid 50s, dropping to the low 50s on Monday, low 40s on Tuesday and upper 30s on Wednesday.

After the weekend, get ready for strong winds Monday into Tuesday with gusts up to 65 mph and well over 100 mph over Sierra ridge tops.

The service said heaviest rain and snowfall rates are expected late Monday night through Tuesday, during the warmer phase of the storm.

“Snow could begin to accumulate over the main Sierra passes starting late Tuesday morning, and into the Lake Tahoe basin and higher elevation roads of northeast California by Tuesday afternoon, continuing through Tuesday night,” the statement said.

Snow levels are still materializing with two or more feet of snow possible above 8,000 feet and several inches to over 1 foot possible between 5,500 and 8,000 feet.

Snow levels will start high, 8,000-9,000 feet, from northeast California down through the eastern Sierra. The heaviest precipitation will be delivered during this timeframe resulting in mainly a rain event for all but the highest elevations across the Sierra.

The service said the storm will go into a colder phase from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday with snow levels dropping to mountain pass levels, 7,000-7,500 feet.

Travel impacts from snowfall will increase Tuesday night with snow levels nearing 5,000 feet by Wednesday morning.

Additional storms are possible through New Years and the service said, “The New Year’s Eve period could see an elevated risk for winter travel impacts and increased winds. The quiet  weather through this weekend brings an opportunity to plan for winter driving conditions and alternate options if traveling next week, and to secure or remove outdoor decorations if they are at risk of damage from strong winds.”

National Weather Service forecast for South Lake Tahoe.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.