Lake Tahoe weather: Moderate snow to start Tuesday; storms could bring over 3 feet
Lake Tahoe could see anywhere from 13-40 inches of snow, depending on temperatures, from a series of storms expected to start Tuesday.
The updated totals from the National Weather Service in Reno hinge on the possibility that some precipitation could fall as rain at lake level. Above 7,000 feet, snow totals could exceed 4 feet from Tuesday through Friday morning.
The weather service has issued a winter weather advisory from 4 p.m. Tuesday through 4 p.m. Wednesday. A winter storm watch will then take effect and last into early Friday morning.
Accumulation of 5-10 inches of snow is possible at lake level Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. Higher totals ranging from 10-18 inches are possible west of California Route 89.
The heaviest snowfall is expected to start Wednesday night.
Elevations above 7,000 feet could see anywhere from 2-4 feet of snow Wednesday night through Thursday. Below 7,000 feet, snow totals could range from 8-18 inches. If all the precipitation remains snow, lake level could see 15-30 inches.
Winds as strong as 45 mph at the lake during the storm watch could make travel over mountain passes nearly impossible, the weather service warns.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible later Wednesday through Thursday with periods of white out conditions possible, especially in the higher elevations.”
Earlier this month, winter storms combined with several other factors to temporarily shutdown many of the major highways leading out of the Tahoe Basin. Some drivers were stranded on area roads for hours.
With the approaching storms in the forecast, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) urges people to plan for lengthy delays.
Chain requirements will likely be implemented on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, on U.S. 50 over Echo Summit and other Sierra mountain highways. Motorists must carry chains or other legally approved traction devices.
Speed limits during chain controls are reduced to 30 mph on I-80 and 25 mph on U.S. 50.
“Caltrans crews will be working around the clock to keep roadways open and clear,” the department said in a press release. “Drivers should watch for snow removal equipment and reduce speeds while in their vicinity.”