Winter weather blankets basin |

Winter weather blankets basin

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

By Susan Wood

Tribune staff writer

The crawl of traffic and space between vehicles signaled a return of winter Wednesday – less than a week from a one-year anniversary that humbled many hardy Lake Tahoe residents.

At lake level, 8 to 12 inches of snow fell Tuesday night into Wednesday morning – keeping the California Highway Patrol on guard for spinouts.

Chains were required over Tahoe passes that morning.

And more is on the way through the week.

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“We’re totally ready for this,” South Lake Tahoe street supervisor Scott Rogers said. He rode in the plow with one of his snow-removal workers Tuesday.

At Rogers’ house, The Weather Channel is a way of life. The longtime resident has lived through some big storms.

On Dec. 16, 2002, more than triple Tuesday night’s amount and strong wind gusts descended on the basin – knocking out power to 4,000 customers.

Flying debris, flashlights, clogged snowblowers, stranded motorists and fallen trees became the order of the day.

Tuesday night’s storm was hardly of the same magnitude, but the winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service panned out for skiers on the slopes Wednesday.

Leeor Morris of San Francisco covered both California and Nevada sides of Heavenly Ski Resort, getting fresh tracks at 9 a.m.

Morris was laid off last week.

“I’m taking advantage of my newfound freedom,” he said.

Mother Nature added a foot to Heavenly’s 1- to 4-foot base. On Friday, it plans to open the Stagecoach section of the mountain, along with the new beginner area served by the Big Easy chairlift.

Sierra-at-Tahoe will fully open the West Bowl area today, with 16 inches of snow and counting from Tuesday night’s storm.

For the rest of the week, Thursday may provide Tahoe residents with the only break. The weather service predicts cloudy skies then, followed by a chance of snow Friday and overnight. Snow is likely Saturday night into Sunday.

“This early a prediction usually means a decent size system. They’re not expecting this one to fall apart,” said Gary Barbato, a meteorologist for the weather service.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at