Lake Tahoe weather: 3+ feet of snow blankets region; power outages begin
February 21, 2017
TAHOE-TRUCKEE — Snow totals could rapidly vary across the Tahoe Basin Tuesday as more bands of snow move into the area, dumping as much as a foot of snow at lake level.
A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Reno, while a backcountry avalanche warning from the Sierra Avalanche Center is in place until 7 a.m. Tuesday. Avalanche danger is high at all elevations.
Per the storm warning, accumulation above 7,000 feet could range from 8 to 14 inches Tuesday, while 5 to 10 inches could accumulate below 7,000 feet. Areas where heavy snow bands persist could see up to 18 inches.
"Bands of snow will continue through tonight with the heaviest snow expected today," according to NWS. "Snow may rapidly vary in intensity over short distances."
The Tuesday forecast comes after Monday's heavy storm in which the region saw anywhere from 2 to more than 3 feet of snow at higher elevations, as well as an avalanche that covered the Mt. Rose Highway overnight Monday with roughly 20 feet of snow.
According to the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, the main route between Reno and Lake Tahoe would remain closed until further notice. No one was believed to be hurt in the incident.
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Meanwhile, according to NWS, the nearby Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe resort recorded between 39 and 43 inches of fresh snow as of 7 a.m. Monday, with 42 inches falling at Heavenly and up to 32 inches at upper mountain at Sugar Bowl.
A solid foot of snow had fallen by 7 a.m. at ground level in Truckee, with closer to 2 feet at higher elevations like in Tahoe Donner.
Winds Tuesday are expected to range from 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. Peak gusts on the Sierra ridge could be as strong as 135 mph.
NWS warns that rapid rates of snowfall — up to 2 inches per hour — and winds could cause dangerous whiteout conditions, particularly over mountain passes and in the backcountry.
Once again, as was the case all day Monday, road conditions will be very sketchy, with chain and/or snow tire restructions in place across all major highways.
Visit the California Department of Transportation website and Nevada Department of Transportation website for road conditions.