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Storm, powder snow good for skiing, bad for roads

While Lake Tahoe ski slopes received fresh powder Tuesday, prospective skiers had trouble getting to some of the resorts.

The storm that moved in Monday night and continued most of Tuesday morning brought several inches of snow at lake level and more than a foot higher up, leading to road closures and chain restrictions on several highways.

State Route 88 toward Kirkwood Ski Resort was closed Monday night through most of Tuesday. By 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the highway had not opened, but the California Department of Transportation started escorting vehicles through the area.



“You just have to wait and then follow a Caltrans vehicle,” said Tania Magidson, Kirkwood spokeswoman. “(The effect the closure had on the resort wasn’t) too bad. It’s worse for us if it happens on a weekend. On a week day, it’s not too bad.”

State Route 88 opened around 5 p.m.



U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit also was closed for about six hours because of whiteout and avalanche conditions. Caltrans opened part of the old highway for a few hours to allow traffic to move through. However, U.S. Highway 50 was opened with no restrictions by early afternoon.

“It opened around noon, I think. So we did have a lot of skiers come in after noon,” said Nancy Harrison, spokeswoman for Sierra-at-Tahoe. “But (the road closure) did affect the number of skiers who come up in the morning.”

State Route 89, U.S. Highway 50 to Carson City and Kingsbury Grade all had chain restrictions at some point during the storm. Emerald Bay Road was closed for a three mile stretch north from Emerald Bay.

About 6 to 8 inches fell at the Lake Tahoe Airport, according to Oasis Aviation. Heavenly Ski Resort recorded 13 to 17 inches over its resort. Kirkwood received 24 to 30 inches. Sierra-at-Tahoe received 26 inches.

“The low temperature overnight was 9 degrees, so it was a light, dry snow – excellent ski conditions,” Harrison said. “‘Best day of the season,’ I was told.”

Dan Samelson, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Reno office, said the storm system has passed but likely will be followed by another. There is a chance of snow Wednesday night and Thursday.

“Friday and Saturday look good,” he said. “Sunday may be breezy. Right now, I’m going to say there’s a slight chance of showers over the Sierra late Sunday.”


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