Rain, snow in forecast for Lake Tahoe; expect Thanksgiving travel delays in northern Sierra

Jeff Danciger, Jarod Alper and Eric Schoen, from left, all from San Francisco, snowshoe along the edge of Lake Tahoe near Edgewood Golf Course.
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file photo

An extended dry period will likely come to an end this week when the Lake Tahoe region receives some sorely-needed rain and snow.

The National Weather Service urges holiday travelers to plan for adverse road conditions starting Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday will be mostly sunny with high temperatures in the 50s.

Conditions will change Wednesday, impacting travel plans.

“With it being a busy holiday travel period, the anticipated weather could bring significant impacts to travel in the Sierra,” according to the weather service. “It is best to have a winter travel kit and plan for potentially long delays Wednesday-Friday.”

Precipitation is expected to start late Wednesday morning. Snow levels in the Sierra will fluctuate throughout the day, starting around 5,500 to 6,500 feet early Wednesday morning. Snow levels will then rise to 7,500 feet by the afternoon before falling overnight to around 6,000 feet, according to the weather service.

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“Elevations below 7,000 feet in the Sierra could see a mix during the day, with periods of rain or snow depending on precipitation intensity,” according to the weather service. “Finally, some snow will be possible down to Lake Tahoe level by late Wednesday evening into Thanksgiving Day.”

If you’re planning on traveling Wednesday, the service recommends heading over Sierra passes by Wednesday morning or early Wednesday afternoon.

Moderate crosswinds are possible Wednesday on U.S. 50 and Interstate 80, which could pose problems for higher profile vehicles.

Snow totals through Thanksgiving morning could range from 6-12 inches above 8,000 feet and up to 4 inches at lake level. However, the total at lake level is less certain and depends on the timing of cold air.

A stronger storm is possible Thursday night and Friday, with high winds and periods of heavy rain and snow expected to impact travel in the Tahoe Basin and northern Sierra.

“Have an alternate set of travel plans, if possible consider delaying travel until Saturday,” the service cautions.

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