Is anyone around South Lake Tahoe right now who can tell me the weather?
January 21, 2017 9:39 AM   Subscribe

My family is supposed to drive up to Heavenly from SF tomorrow morning. Anyone in that area right now who can tell me how bad it's going to be?

We have chains for our car and I am an experienced New England snow driver, but this is our first time skiing in CA so I don't know this route or how storms vary around the lake basin. We turn off onto 50 before the chain control on 80, though there is chain control in place for about 35 miles of our route on 50, which we're okay with. I see dire weather warnings that say "Do not drive around Tahoe on Sunday", but I just called our hotel asking if we should come a day early and they said "Oh lord it's going to be fine tomorrow, don't worry." Anyone up around the South Lake Tahoe area right now who can give me another data point?

And yes I know "better safe than sorry" but I'm looking for actual on-the-ground info at the moment, thanks.
posted by olinerd to Travel & Transportation around South Lake Tahoe, CA (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's a Caltrans live traffic map. You'll find a live traffic cam overlooking South Lake Tahoe (select the camera from the list of options below).

Just got a message from my mom who lives in Pollock Pines, 40 miles west of Tahoe, and she's decided to skip the march and stay home rather than drive through the snow ( although she is not an experienced snowy road driver).
posted by notyou at 9:51 AM on January 21, 2017

California DOT maintains a highway conditions page. Mountain highways.

OpenSnow's Tahoe Daily Snow is predicting 1 to 2 feet for Sunday and Sunday night. Brian Allegreto's forecasts are the best I've seen. He gets into the details if you want and always mentions conditions at lake level and what altitude snow turns to rain.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2017

Oh, with all of the snow so far just from this recent series of storms, the banks on the side of the road are high, so snow removal is tough and the cleared paths are narrow. There's no "side" to clear wrecks to in some places, so even minor accidents can cause big delays. Also, it's not just snow on the road and chain controls. When I checked with the CA DOT this morning, highway 88 (from SF Bay Area to Kirkwood) was closed at the Carson Spur for avalanche control. That can take hours.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 9:58 AM on January 21, 2017

I don't mind delays - it's more safety I'm worried about. If it's just a matter of sitting and waiting for something to clear, I'm okay.
posted by olinerd at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2017

It took a friend 9 hours to get from Davis to Tahoe yesterday due to constant road closures. So I suppose it depends on your tolerance for sitting and waiting.
posted by sacrifix at 10:11 AM on January 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

If tomorrow's storm is is bad as they predict, you have have more trouble with *getting* to the parts of 80 where it's snowing rather than raining than you do on the parts where it's snowing, because road flooding and whatnot. Keep a close eye on the Caltrans and Cal Dot updates, and also the CHP traffic feed.
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on January 21, 2017

I once spent 10 hours driving from Heavenly to SF because roughly 2 feet of snow entirely closed the pass, it took hours to clear, and most of the drivers around us were not comfortable in snow and with chains on. When it's actively snowing a lot, the delays mean adding 4 to 8 hours to a 3.5 hour drive on a road with few gas stations.

A friend was headed to Kirkwood (roughly on the way to Heavenly from SF) for a company offsite this weekend and they relocated to wine country at the last minute.

I wouldn't do it. There's a chance North Lake Tahoe is more accessible this week because the resorts are much closer to 80.
posted by asphericalcow at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2017

I'm in Truckee, so north of Tahoe, and our guests left today instead of risking driving tomorrow. In last week's storm, 80 was closed for three days so you can't always get through even if you're patient. There are supposed to be 100 mile per hour winds at the crest so I suspect visibility will be poor. A woman died last week here when a tree fell on her car during a storm. It very well might be passable but my plans for tomorrow do not involve leaving the house. In any case, chain control tomorrow will almost certainly be for a longer stretch then today. Reno is supposed to get 8-12 inches of snow and it was sunny and gorgeous there this morning (for the Women's March!). Magnifeye is a good site for webcams. I use
the Truckee CHP and Reno NWS Facebook pages lots of good updates during bad weather. The South Lake CHP Facebook page does not seem to be updated too frequently but they do seem to be active on Twitter.
posted by carolr at 4:28 PM on January 21, 2017

Thanks everyone. We decided to suck it up and pay for an extra hotel night so we could come up early. Excited to sit through the storm in a warm room with a fireplace instead of a car tomorrow.
posted by olinerd at 7:24 PM on January 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm in Incline. It's ugly. Stay safe, drive slow.
posted by HeyAllie at 11:49 PM on January 21, 2017

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