Thursday snow snarls traffic, closes schools at Tahoe; More on way

Motorists negotiate slick roads Thursday in South Lake Tahoe. Chain controls remain in effect on many Tahoe highways Friday morning.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The first of back-to-back winter storms brought well over a foot of snow and an avalanche warning to the Sierra Nevada on Thursday, closing schools at Lake Tahoe and intermittently shutting down traffic on Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit and State Route 88 near Kirkwood.

The National Weather Service winter storm warning expired at 4 a.m. but most Tahoe highways have some kind of chain restrictions Friday morning.

Sierra-at-Tahoe, which is expected to open Saturday, received about 3 feet of snow according to the Tahoe Snow Map app while Palisades Tahoe is reporting 20 inches at the summit and Mount Rose Ski Tahoe reported more than a foot of snow.

The service issued a new storm watch for Saturday morning through the weekend, with as much as 3 feet of snow possible at the highest elevations by Monday.

“Our next storm is still on track to be colder, slower and wetter than today’s storm,” service forecasters in Reno said late Thursday.

The new storm watch goes into effect at 4 a.m. and lasts through 4 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.

Total snow accumulations of 8 to 18 inches are expected below 7,000 feet, with 1 to 3 feet at higher elevations.

Multiple spin outs and a jackknifed semi trailer on Interstate 80 near Truckee forced various closures throughout the day. Travel had resumed in both directions Thursday night but the California Highway Patrol warned the roads were slick.

“Personnel are still working hard in clearing multiple vehicles stuck over Donner Summit so slow down!!” highway patrol tweeted from Truckee, east of the I-80 summit.

Traffic was held Thursday evening on US 50 at the Meyers roundabout due to multiple spin outs on Echo Summit.

All Lake Tahoe schools were closed Thursday.

The Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee issued a backcountry avalanche warning through Friday for the Central Sierra Nevada, including the Tahoe area.

Caltrans snowplows clear Emerald Bay Road Thursday morning in South Lake Tahoe.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

“Feet of new snow and strong winds will overload an already weak snowpack and result in very dangerous avalanche conditions in the mountains,” the center said.

The weather service expected winds would gust Thursday night into Friday up to 40 mph on Lake Tahoe, producing waves up to 4 feet and gusts up to 70 mph over mountain ridges.

For road conditions, visit or call 511.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.