Snow arrives, much more coming: Wintry weather prominent in Tahoe forecast |

Snow arrives, much more coming: Wintry weather prominent in Tahoe forecast

Madison Schultz /
With with chain controls in effect, vehicles were being monitored on Wednesday before being allowed to travel over Echo Summit on U.S. Highway 50.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – On Wednesday morning, Nov. 2, Nick Accordino and his family were spending their first day on vacation in South Lake Tahoe. With sightseeing and shopping on the docket for their first day in town, they were forewarned of snow flurries and potential weather. Shortly thereafter, the snow was rapidly accumulating, and the Accordino family was stuck in Tahoe’s first storm of the season.

Tahoe welcomed November back with a strong storm. This storm totaled in with 8-12 inches of snow at lake level in South Lake Tahoe, according to the National Weather Service report. The storm led to chain controls on all highways and resulted in multiple vehicle collisions.

While the Accordino family admittedly wasn’t prepared for the amount of snow, they said they were driven to safety after being stuck in the winter weather by longtime South Lake Tahoe local Nathan Shremshock. This weather pattern was just the beginning of what the Lake Tahoe Basin is expecting in the coming week.

Along with early season snow totals, the storm also brought record cold temperatures. The Wednesday, Nov. 2 high temperature of 33 degrees set a record for the lowest high on the date, according to the National Weather Service.

During the weather pattern that the Lake Tahoe Basin saw from Nov. 1 – 3, California Highway Patrol responded to many traffic incidents that occurred between both North and South Lake Tahoe areas.

“At one point, there were over 85 call-ins from Truckee to the US-80 corridor, reporting incidents of accidents, being stuck, or other winter traveling emergencies,” said Truckee CHP Public Information Officer Carlos Perez.

With this first storm of the season dropping a significant amount of snow, CHP urges the local community as well as it’s visitors to be informed before traveling in hazardous winter conditions.

Chain installers were busy Wednesday morning at the base of Echo Summit on U.S. Highway 50. Installers were charging $40 to put on chains and $20 to take them off.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

“It’s incredibly important to be prepared before you travel,” CHP’s social media post read. “It’s important to not just prep yourself and those you are traveling with, but also prepare your vehicle properly for winter travel.”

CHP’s winter driving tips include checking your vehicle’s fluids, making sure you have a full tank of gas, and your tires are in good shape. Keeping emergency items such as blankets and clothing, food and water, and flares and flashlights are also vital to being prepared in storm conditions for long delays and unexpected storms.

“Know where you’re going and what roads to take is also essential,” CHP’s social media post read. “Avoid taking side roads to pass traffic, snow on major highways is typically plowed first, and it’s easy to get stuck.”

Along with these winter driving tips, it’s important to keep updated on the current weather and road conditions consistently when planning to travel in storms.

Snow rapidly accumulating during Tahoe’s first winter snowstorm.
Madison Schultz/Tahoe Daily Tribune

This early November storm was just the start, and looking forward, the Tahoe Basin can expect more snow in the coming week.

“We are seeing a period of unsettled conditions in the next seven days,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Amanda Young. “More weather is expected to start up Saturday evening which isn’t supposed to be a really strong system. We’re expecting some wind starting Saturday into Sunday; then Sunday into Wednesday it’s looking like we’ll have a significant system come through the Tahoe area. It’s too early to assess expected totals, but it does look like it’ll be a significant storm.”

The weather service on Thursday afternoon issued a winter storm watch that goes into effect at noon Sunday, Nov. 6, and lasts through 4 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9. The service is forecasting up to 4 feet of total snow accumulation above 7,000 feet and 1 to 3 feet below. 

Winds could gust up to 45 mph with exposed ridges hitting 80 mph.

In a detailed report on Open Snow, weather forecaster Bryan Allegretto is also expecting significant storm totals in the next week.

“The storm gets interesting as a cold front approaches and moves through Sunday night into Monday,” Allegretto’s Thursday snow report read. “Winds ahead of the front increase Sunday afternoon with ridgetop gusts up to 80-plus mph. Snow levels could drop to 6,500 – 7,000 feet by Sunday evening and dropping below lake level overnight as the cold front moves through, down below 5,000 feet by Monday morning.”

The report continues, stating that steady snow showers could continue into Monday night as colder air moves in, bringing the potential for good, enhanced snowfall, as snow levels are expected to drop below 3,000 feet by Tuesday morning.

“This is when snow ratios jump and powdery snow could start to really pile up,” Allegretto’s report read.

Forecasters say that it’s too early to predict Lake Tahoe’s next storm’s anticipated totals yet, but local communities as well as any visitors to the area should be proactive in preparing for substantial snowfall. It is recommended to be prepared for winter travel, road conditions, and have supplies on hand both in your car as well as in your home, as travel is expected to be difficult and potentially hazardous, and maybe possible at times.

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