Winter storm at Tahoe leads to road, ski resort closures, chain controls

Solid blue lines mean chains are required on all vehicles except 4-wheel drive with snow tires. Dotted blue line — chins or snow tires required and red means the road is closed.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Heavy snowfall has resulted in widespread travel impacts and ski resort closures this weekend at Lake Tahoe.

Some highways and ski resorts are closed due to heavy snow and chain controls are in effect throughout the region.

Interstate 80 has once again closed in both directions, from Applegate to the Nevada/California state line with no estimated time of reopening.

Nevada State Route 431 is closed over Mt. Rose Summit while the state department of transportation performs avalanche control. The road is expected to open later this morning when the road is cleared, said Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.

California State Route 88 is closed at Kirkwood, from 3.5 miles east of Silver Lake to Kirkwood and on the other side from 2 miles east to 5 miles west of Picketts Junction.

With the expected heavy snowfall rates, travelers should also expect periodic delays on U.S. Highway 50 with Caltrans likely to perform avalanche control over Echo Summit.

Chain controls are in effect on all Tahoe highways except US-50 from Meyers through South Lake Tahoe and Stateline to before Spooner Summit.

Heavenly Mountain Resort is not opening on Sunday due to, “dangerous road conditions, extreme winds, and limited visibility. This decision is being made proactively out of an abundance of caution for our employees and our guests.”

Wind will also affect operations at Palisades Tahoe with some lifts starting on wind hold.

Northstar California also said it would not open on Sunday, “Due to heavy snowfall from this storm and travel to and from the resort. Our teams will be focused on recovery of our operations.”

The National Weather Service in Reno has a winter storm warning in effect through 4 a.m. Monday with more than a foot of snow expected to fall today, on top of the 18 or so inches that fell on Saturday, above 7,000 feet.

Heaviest snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour will occur Sunday morning, the service said.

Winds could gust as high as 50 mph with up to 95 mph gusts along the Sierra Crest which could create rough conditions on the lake including waves up to 4 feet.

The service said in the warning, “Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Strong winds may cause tree damage and lead to power outages. Blowing and drifting snow may bring near zero visibility at times and rapid disorientation if attempting to travel. Lake waters will be rough and hazardous.”

The service added additional snow loading on top of very deep existing snowpack may create unusual hazards such as structural instabilities, roofalanches, fire hydrant access issues, delayed first responders and shelter in place orders.

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.