Update: Officials say weekend storm could dump up to 5 feet of snow at Lake Tahoe

A view of Lake Tahoe Wednesday morning from D.L. Bliss State Park.

Update 1 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Reno on Wednesday afternoon issued a winter storm watch for the Lake Tahoe Basin that goes into effect at 10 p.m. Friday and lasts through 4 a.m. Monday.

The service says 20-30 inches could fall at lake level, with 2-4 feet possible above 7,000 and up to 5 feet possible along the Sierra crest.

The advisory said heaviest snowfall rates are anticipated Saturday and Sunday. The combination of heavy snow and wind may bring periods of whiteout conditions with winds gusting up to 45 mph.


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Officials are advising against mountain travel this weekend with a major snowstorm headed to Lake Tahoe that will likely be measured in feet.

After a couple of quiet and seasonably cool days, active winter weather returns Thursday with a pair of storms through Sunday.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday afternoon issued a special statement for a pair of winter storms to end the week, a fairly mild storm on Thursday into Friday and a possible major snow dump on the weekend. 

A quick hitting storm on Thursday into Friday could dump up to 10 inches of snow along the Sierra crest. The snow will bring periods of travel difficulties and a few light showers may make it into western Nevada.

Winds will also gust up to 60 mph beginning late Thursday afternoon and into Friday morning.

The service said 6-10 inches could fall on Donner and Echo summits on Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50 and 2-6 inches west of U.S. Highway 395 and near State Route 89 in the basin.

“Slick and snow covered roadways will likely impact travel through the Tahoe Basin and higher elevations of northeast California,” the service said.

The main event will impact the Sierra Friday night through Sunday with significant travel impacts expected, including possible road closures and long delays.

A cold, low-pressure system dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska will phase with subtropical moisture and strong southwest flow as it intersects the Sierra this weekend, bringing strong winds and heavy snow to the mountains, the service said. 

There is a 90% chance that more than 2 feet of snow will fall along the Sierra crest and 1 foot of snow in Tahoe communities. There are good chances (50-60%) of seeing at least an inch of snow into the valleys, including Reno and Carson City.

The service said snow will taper off on Sunday through the evening, but travel issues may continue well into the night due to snow clearing efforts and delayed traffic. Snow showers may linger into Monday.

Strong winds well above 100 mph are possible on Sierra ridges throughout Saturday.

The service is eyeing another possible storm early the following week.

“Models continue to show a trough of some fashion along the west coast later next week, but there are significant discrepancies in its placement with most current model solutions not showing another strong storm impacting the region,” the service said.

Chain restrictions are in effect Wednesday morning on SR-89 from Tahoma to Emerald Bay where the highway is closed to Camp Richardson and from the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe through Meyers and over Echo Summit on US 50.

The national Weather Service forecast through the end of the week for South Lake Tahoe.

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.