Update: Chain controls in effect, winter advisory shortened at Tahoe; Big end of year storm on way

A Caltrans webcam view of U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit on Tuesday morning.

Update 1:15 p.m.: The National Weather Service on Tuesday afternoon shortened its winter storm warning by several hours.

Six hours has been chopped off the warning which is now in effect through 4 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Heavy snow is still expected with up to 4 inches possible at lake level and up to a foot above 7,000 feet.

Update 10:20 a.m.: The precipitation falling at Lake Tahoe is slowly turning to slow leading to chain controls over some roads and mountain passes.

Chains are required on all vehicles except 4-wheel drive with snow tires on U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit, on Nevada State Route 207 over Daggett Summit on Kingsbury Grade, over Spooner Summit on US-50 and on NV SR-431 from Incline Village over Mount Rose Summit.

Chains or snow tires are also required on a section on NV SR-28 for a few miles from the junction of US-50.

The National Weather Service has a winter storm warning in effect through 4 a.m. Wednesday and 2 feet of snow is possible above 7,000 feet, with 3 to 10 inches possible at lake level as the snow levels continue to drop on Tuesday.

There is also a high wind restriction for vehicles over 9 feet on U.S. Highway 395 from US-395-ALT to SR-431.

Original post

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The rain is coming down in buckets and winds howled through the night at Lake Tahoe.

The precipitation is turning to snow Tuesday morning on some Sierra highways, including Interstate 80 west of Truckee near Donner Summit, prompting the National Weather Service in Reno to update its winter storm warning that went into effect at 7 a.m., a few hours earlier than anticipated.

Heavy rain and snow is expected through the end of the advisory at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Snow accumulations of 3 to 10 inches at lake level are possible with 1 to 2 feet above 7,000 feet. 

“Snow levels will lower through the morning with the colder phase of the storm moving in,” the service said. “Snow levels will drop to near 7,000 feet by mid-morning and near lake level by late this afternoon before dipping to around 5,000 feet this evening.”

The wind gusts will also reach up to 50 mph bringing waves up to 5 feet on the lake creating hazardous conditions. The service said Sierra ridgetop wind gusts overnight hit 100-120 mph.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is reminding travelers to slow down to avoid collisions, saying that 175 crashes occurred in bad weather between Oct. 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, including two fatalities.

The Sierra Avalanche Center issued an avalanche warning that is in effect through 7 a.m. Wednesday for high danger in the backcountry.

There are no chain requirements yet on Tahoe area highways, but that is expected to change with the snow levels dropping Through the day on Tuesday.

The potent storms will continue through the New Year’s holiday weekend with another system expected to tap into an atmospheric river Friday through early Sunday morning and dump heavy rain and high elevation snow, the service said in a special statement.

Liquid totals in the Sierra could reach 5 to 7 inches over a 2-day period, resulting in several feet of snow in the High Sierra, with 2 to 4 inches in the foothills, and 1 to 2 inches across western Nevada.

Snow levels are expected to be around the 8,000-8,500-foot range for about 24 hours during the heaviest precipitation before falling Saturday afternoon which will create hazardous travel conditions over mountain passes by evening and to Lake Tahoe and foothill elevations by early Sunday morning, the statement said, and added that the snow will be a heavy and wet Sierra cement.

The service said there will be rises on rivers, creeks and streams but there is no mainstream river flooding expected, although urban and poor drainage problems may bring localized concerns.

The winds associated with the weekend storm won’t be as strong as early Tuesday morning but will still be gusty from the southwest.

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