Storm rings in new year: Cancellations reported but officials predict large turnout
New Year’s Eve falling on a Friday typically makes Tahoe even more of a magnet for partyers. This year may be different.
Heavy snow and wind Thursday caused cars to spin out on Highway 50 and forced California Highway Patrol to shut down the road at Meyers for several hours during the day.
More snow is predicted tonight, 4 to 6 inches, with heavier snow expected to begin Saturday afternoon. By the time the snow tapers off on Sunday, South Shore could receive more than 4 feet at lake level.
“I wouldn’t expect to see any blue sky until Monday,” said Rhett Milne, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Reno. “The snow won’t ever completely stop through the weekend.”
The severe weather and its negative effect on road travel will likely reduce the crowd that’s drawn to the Highway 50 corridor at Stateline, which is closed to traffic every New Year’s Eve to accommodate revelers drawn to the area.
“Our phones aren’t ringing as they normally would,” said Duane Wallace, chief executive officer of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. “Usually we’re so beseeched with calls … trying to book every last room, but we’re not getting very many calls today.”
South Lake Tahoe Police Department Lt. Marty Hale thinks the crowd at Stateline will still be huge, around 60,000 people, but it may end up being a little smaller because of the weather.
“No matter how cold it is, how much rain or snow there is, still people flock to Tahoe,” Hale said. “Based on the amount of snow on (Highway) 50 and (Interstate) 80 and with all the avalanche controls, we may find a slow down in numbers; but we’re still expecting a large crowd.”
And one thing is for sure, thousands of people have already made it to South Shore and they are eager to spend the day ripping through fresh snow before heading to Stateline to bring in the new year.
“The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a big week,” Wallace said. “A lot of people are already here and they are going to hunker down and ski and they’re going to love it.
“I talked to some lodging folks and they are getting some cancellations but fortunately those are getting backfilled by people up here looking for rooms.”
The crowds combined with snowy roads and alcohol consumption that comes with every new year can mean accidents and injury. On Thursday, between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., South Lake Tahoe police dealt with 14 traffic collisions and 15 disabled vehicles.
The California Highway Patrol reported numerous spinouts because of slick road conditions but no collisions. A dispatcher for the Nevada Highway Patrol said she was too busy to come up with traffic statistics. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department said it escaped the day without many collisions.
– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org