Rain and snow pound Tahoe region | RecordCourier.com

Rain and snow pound Tahoe region

by Ryan Hoffman

It could take a little while to dig out from this most recent storm in the Tahoe Basin. That is, once it ends.

The harsh winter weather that is expected to continue through most of this week is a continuation of a storm that wreaked havoc on roadways and shut down schools and other offices in the region Tuesday, while dumping about 2 feet of snow in some areas around the lake.

“Life Threatening Snowfall with Blizzard Conditions through Tonight! Most roads are closed. Just Stay Home!” stated a tweet from the National Weather Service in Reno Tuesday evening.

A blizzard warning remained in effect through most of the morning Wednesday, with winds ranging from 20 to 30 mph and gusts as strong as 60 mph. The blizzard warning gave way to a winter storm warning that is expected to remain in effect through Thursday morning.

In total, the storm could dump 3 to 7 feet of snow at lake level and 5 to 10 feet of snow at elevations above 7,000 feet.

Heavenly Mountain Resort reported 48 inches of new snow in 24 hours on Tuesday morning — before a day in which snowfall was nearly constant.

Late in the morning Tuesday, the city of South Lake Tahoe warned that the weather was a tier 4 storm — the strongest storm possible — and that it was forcing snow removal crews to focus on primary arterial and collector roadways before other side and neighborhood streets. Nonessential city employees were told to stay home Tuesday, and the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit closed its offices in South Lake Tahoe and Incline Village Tuesday and Wednesday.

Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Lake Tahoe Community College and Douglas County School District’s George Whittell High School and Zephyr Cove Elementary School were all closed Tuesday.

A traffic hold on U.S. 50 between Twin Bridges and Meyers was in effect through much of the day Tuesday as crews conducted avalanche control, according to the California Department of Transportation. Eventually crews started escorting vehicles on U.S. 50 over Echo Summit with one-way reversing traffic controls. North of the lake, Interstate 80 was closed through most of the day Tuesday.

The winter storm that rolled into the area Monday came on the heels of torrential rains that caused the Upper Truckee River and other waterways in the region to flood. On Sunday, flooding in South Lake Tahoe led the city to temporarily open an emergency evacuation center at South Tahoe High School, although no emergency evacuation orders were ordered.

Forecasters reported Monday that precipitation since Jan. 1 has caused Lake Tahoe to rise 1 foot, amounting to approximately 33.6 billion gallons of water.

The combination of rain and snow led the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to unanimously declare a local state of emergency Tuesday due to damage to local infrastructure.