Update: Chain controls in effect; Flood watch issued as storms take aim at Lake Tahoe

A view of Lake Tahoe Wednesday morning from Heavenly Mountain Resort.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — As the latest storm leaves Lake Tahoe, several more are gearing up to impact the basin through the new year and beyond.

Chain controls are in effect Wednesday morning for many Tahoe highways, including over Echo, Mt. Rose, Spooner and Donner summits. California State Route 89 is also closed at Emerald Bay.

For more information on road conditions, visit, or call 511.

After a break from rain and snow on Wednesday, the active weather pattern will ramp up again with a series of storms through the new year.

The National Weather Service in Reno says a quick-hitting cooler storm will enter the Lake Tahoe Basin on Thursday bringing 4 to 8 inches of snow along the Sierra crest with 2 to 4 inches possible at lake level and 2 inches is possible across western Nevada foothills with little to no accumulation expected in the valleys. 

The snow could impact the Thursday morning commute. Wind gusts in the Sierra could hit 70 mph but the service said it shouldn’t be a concern at lower elevations.

Another atmospheric storm on Friday is expected to bring heavy rain and snow at higher elevations which will impact mountain travel and could cause some minor flooding, the service said in a special weather statement.

There is significant moisture associated with the storm expected to last into Sunday which could result in multiple feet of snow at higher elevations in the Sierra.

Liquid totals in the Sierra could reach 5 to 7 inches over a 2-day period, with 2 to 4 inches in the foothills, and 1 to 2 inches across western Nevada.

A flood watch has been issued on Wednesday for the greater Tahoe area that goes into effect at 7 a.m. Friday, Dec. 30, and lasts through 4 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1.

“Excessive runoff may result in flooding of mainstem rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations,” the advisory said. “Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Flooding is possible in urban areas and locations with poor drainage. Low water crossings may be flooded.”

The service said snow levels are expected to rise to 8,000-8,500 feet for around 24 hours during the heaviest precipitation. Snow levels then begin to fall Saturday afternoon bringing impacts to most Sierra passes by evening and to Lake Tahoe and foothill elevations by early Sunday morning. 

“With snow levels to valley floors by Sunday morning, any lingering showers will be snow and light accumulations in the valleys cannot be ruled out,” the service said. “The snow character will be a heavy and wet Sierra cement.”

The service said the active weather will continue into thew first week of 2023 with three more storm systems possible next week.

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