Schools, some roads closed, chain controls in effect Monday at Lake Tahoe

A screen grab from a video a Heavenly Mountain Resort employee took showing a Dipper Express chairlift violently swinging in the wind.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Lake Tahoe residents on Monday morning are digging their way out from a winter storm that dropped feet of snow, packed powerful winds that sent chairlifts violently swinging and left thousands without power.

The storm may be leaving the basin, but impacts are still being felt including roads and school closures and chain controls.

All schools at Lake Tahoe have been canceled for Monday.

“Due to heavy snow, no power in several schools (and communities), down trees, roads not cleared and campuses not quite ready, all LTUSD schools will be closed on Monday,” said the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

Three mountain passes are currently closed in the Lake Tahoe area Monday morning including Mount Rose Summit (SR-431), Carson Pass (SR-88) and Echo Summit on U.S. Highway 50 where traffic is being temporarily held in Meyers for westbound travelers.

SR-88 is closed to westbound motorists at Pickett’s Junction/SR-89.

Chain controls are in effect on every highway in the basin except in South Lake Tahoe on US-50 from Meyers to Stateline.

For more information, visit, or call 511.

A wind gust at Palisades Tahoe hit 154 mph on Saturday morning and Heavenly Mountain Resort posted a video of a chairlift swinging violently in the wind due to gusts that topped 100 mph along with a tweet: “A reminder that wind hold is always for your safety.”

Palisades reported that in the past seven days it has received 69 inches and from Saturday to Sunday morning it got 35 inches, the sixth largest snowfall total in 24 hours that it has on record.

A 70-mile stretch of eastbound Interstate 80 was closed Saturday “due to zero visibility” from Colfax through Truckee to the Nevada state line, transportation officials said. Chains were required on much of the rest of I-80 and other routes in the mountains from Reno toward Sacramento.

The Sierra Avalanche Center issued an avalanche warning for the weekend that expires at 7 a.m. Monday.

Power was beginning to be restored through Sunday night for some residents, but as of 5:30 a.m. Monday, 6,426 South Shore customers remain without power and another 241 in Tahoma and Carnelian Bay areas, according to the Liberty Utilities Outage Map. The estimated time of restoration for most areas is at noon Monday.

At one point, 22,000 customers were without power going into Sunday night, said Liberty Regional Communications Manager Kurt Althof. 

“Crews were able to restore power to about 16,000 overnight with just over 6,000 still out of power as of this morning,” Althof said. “Crews will continue to work until power has been restored to all. The outages were caused by various winter weather issues (wind, wet heavy snow, etc) and compounded by access challenges both in town and in the backcountry, road closures and avalanche hazards.

“I know it has been rough out there for a lot of people without power for an extended time but I can assure you the guys were out there battling the elements nonstop to restore power safely and as quickly as possible,” Althof added. 

NV Energy is reporting about 1,000 customers without power on the East Shore with about half in Zephyr Cove and the other half near Glenbrook.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the week to be precipitation free with highs in the mid to upper 30s and overnight lows will struggle to reach double digits.

A Liberty employee trudges through snow this weekend while trying to restore power.

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.