Stormy end of year at Lake Tahoe; More systems stacking up in 2023

Flooding is anticipated this weekend on N. Upper Truckee Road. The National Weather Service has a flood watch in effect for Lake Tahoe through Jan. 1.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — This year will end at Lake Tahoe with a warm, wet multi-day storm that will bring heavy, high elevation snow and mostly rain to the basin.

Officials say that the active weather pattern will last well into the new year, into the second week of January.

The National Weather Service in Reno on Thursday upgraded to a winter storm warning that lasts through 4 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, for up to 5 feet of snow above 8,000 feet, 1 to 3 feet above 7,000 feet and 1 to 5 inches at lake level. 

An avalanche warning is in effect through 7 a.m. Sunday for the storm packing gale force winds and rain on snow followed by high intensity snowfall could result in large, widespread, destructive slides.

Strong winds will gust up to 50 mph with 100 mph or more possible for Sierra ridges.

Travel over mountain passes likely won’t be impacted with snow until midday Saturday as snow levels begin high on Friday, at about 9,000 feet, the weather service said. The levels will drop to about 7,000 on Saturday and below 6,000 feet Saturday night.

“Snow totals of 1 to 5 inches below 6,500 feet (including Lake Tahoe) will be possible Saturday night into early Sunday as snow levels drop,” the advisory said.

The service said the bulk of moisture will happen during a 24-30-hour period from late Friday morning through Saturday afternoon with continuous intense rain and high elevation snow, with some lightning possible.

For Saturday evening through the overnight hours as 2023 begins, snow levels drop as the heavier precipitation tapers down, but snow remains possible through early Sunday.

“We are also keeping heads up for wet roads possibly becoming icy overnight, so be aware of changing road conditions if you are ringing in the New Year, as the roads may worsen as you are traveling home from celebrations early Sunday morning,” the service said.

The service advises to avoid travel as once the storm hits it may become difficult or impossible for an extended period. Be prepared with extra food, water, warm clothing and tire chains.

The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 511 or by visiting or

Sunday into Monday morning there will be a bit of a break as the atmospheric river storm departs and skies clear in the afternoon and evening.

Monday night into early Tuesday another fast moving storm will push through the region possibly bringing 2-5 inches of snow to the basin and up to 8 inches along the Sierra crest.

Another brief break is expected for much of Tuesday before a longer atmospheric river event looks to impact the region that evening into Thursday night.

Officials are still dialing in that forecast but simulations are showing the system to be cooler with snow levels down to about 5,000 feet during the warmest part of the storm.

Friday, Jan. 6, could bring a brief break, or lighter snow showers, then another strong-to-moderate storm is possible for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7-8 with the unsettled weather possibly continuing through the second week of January.

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