Tahoe gets hit by biggest storm of the season | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe gets hit by biggest storm of the season

by Andy Bourelle

The snow level should soon be moving downward, giving Lake Tahoe residents a taste of what the mountaintops have been getting for days, according to the National Weather Service.

“We expect occasional rain or snow to continue,” said Al Cox, weather service specialist for the National Weather Service’s Reno office. “The snow level, at about 6,500 feet, should lower to 6,000 (Tuesday). Wednesday and Thursday it will be cold, still with a chance of snow showers.”

Rain showers have been happening off and on for several days at the communities around Lake Tahoe, an elevation of about 6,200 feet. Higher up in the mountains, snow has been a regular visitor to Tahoe ski resorts.

Until early January, Tahoe’s winter had been virtually absent of snow. Since Jan. 11, however, Heavenly Ski Resort reports it has received more than 7 feet.

“We’re pretty stoked,” said Monica Bandows, Heavenly spokeswoman. “We are going to have the whole mountain open by (Tuesday). It’s huge – to go from 40 percent almost two weeks ago to 100 percent now.”

Oasis Aviation at the Lake Tahoe Airport reported that 1.5 inches of water – only a small amount of that coming from snow – fell on South Shore Sunday. By early Monday afternoon, another 0.65 inches of rain had fallen. For January, 5.6 inches of precipitation has been recorded, most of it coming from rain.

The storm coming through the area Sunday and Monday is considered the biggest of the season.

Authorities reported numerous spin-outs and minor traffic accidents.

North Shore schools were closed Monday as that area received considerably more snow than South Shore.

An avalanche trapped a car and forced the closure of the Mount Rose Highway. The passengers in the car escaped without injury, a Nevada Department of Transportation official reported. The highway was closed between Sheep’s Flat and Mt. Rose Ski Area.

Chains or snow tires were required on all mountain passes, including Kingsbury Grade, U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit and California State Route 88 over Carson Pass. Avalanche control work closed State Route 88 east of Silver Lake to Kirkwood Ski Resort, and east of Kirkwood to Picketts Junction in Hope Valley at different intervals throughout the day Monday.

A winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service is supposed to remain in effect through tonight.

The storm also dropped snow in the valleys east of Tahoe Monday, giving early-morning commuters a slippery surprise between Reno and Carson City, where fist-sized snowflakes on U.S. 395 through Washoe Valley made for poor visibility and a slick road.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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