When to leave for Tahoe?
March 31, 2006 2:08 PM   Subscribe

We're going from SF to Tahoe tonight but can't leave until 4:30 p.m. or so. Should we even bother leaving ASAP or should we just wait?

We're going from SF to South Lake Tahoe tonight. Is Bay Bridge and East Bay rush hour traffic so bad that if we can't leave until 4:30, there is no point in going until much later, or can we still make substantial progress at that hour? If we should wait until after rush hour, when should we go? 7? 8?

It's supposed to snow tonight so it would be nice to get going early, but if the freeways are going to be a parking lot then it doesn't seem like there's much point in doing so. Your experiences or insight appreciated.
posted by epugachev to Travel & Transportation around California (17 answers total)
Later is better, be sure to check http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/ for latest road conditions; you don't want to get up there and discover the road is closed.
posted by zia at 2:31 PM on March 31, 2006

You also should consider Sacramento traffic, and with the rain, traffic is already backed up. My advice (and what I am planning to do myself) is to go later so the traffic is less and the weather conditions won't getcha.
posted by zia at 2:35 PM on March 31, 2006

If you leave about 7, you'll probably be OK, and you'll arrive at SLT much less irritated.
posted by pdb at 2:40 PM on March 31, 2006

Looking out my window in Napa...my suggestion is to wait. It's pouring rain here, which means snow in the mountains and endless traffic getting there.

Were it me, I'd wait until morning.... but that's just me.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2006

I'd wait. But do pay attention to whether the pass might close - possible if the rain hits that far east. That can be, um, unpleasant.
posted by metaculpa at 2:47 PM on March 31, 2006

I agree with those suggesting for you to wait. Remember that even if you do miraculously have a smooth exit out of SF at 4:30 you'll still hit Sacramento rush hour (admittedly, not as bad as Bay Area but there may still be slowdowns).

Go later and take your chains!
posted by rlef98 at 2:52 PM on March 31, 2006

With this weather you'll hit that long I-80 corridor that stretches from Emeryville to El Cerrito just in time for it to be a parking lot (though it *might* make a difference if you're able to use the HOV lane).

Also, I came up with this list of streaming traffic webcams. I can't check them out on this machine, but they might be useful?
posted by jasper411 at 3:05 PM on March 31, 2006

Every time I tried to blow out of SF at 4:30, it meant not getting to sac until 7:00 or so. On a friday? With crazy rain? (we've got thunder and lightning going on right now in sactown). You probably won't even get across the bridge until 5:15-30 or so. I feel like if you can't get on the bridge by around 2ish, forget it.

so another wait vote, unless it's going to mean the road'll close on you.
posted by fishfucker at 3:09 PM on March 31, 2006

7 pm would be fine. 6 might even be ok, but you'll catch a good part of the lagger traffic. FWIW a couple years ago i used to make this drive (often in these very conditions) about every other friday.
posted by fishfucker at 3:12 PM on March 31, 2006

In grad school (~5 years ago) we always used to leave around 6pm Friday nights for Tahoe. It was never terrible, and we usually got to Tahoe by 10:30 or so. The only thing to watch out for is chain control/pass closure and the concomitant delays.
posted by pombe at 3:18 PM on March 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies. Looks like there's a clear consensus in favor of waiting a bit. Worries about road closures were the main reason we were considering going earlier.

This is not going to be a fun drive no matter what, I can tell.
posted by epugachev at 3:28 PM on March 31, 2006

Don't bother leaving until 7-8. Chain control shouldn't be a problem, I80 was unrestricted yesterday going to Squaw (not sure about US50 but it should have been OK too).
posted by kcm at 3:30 PM on March 31, 2006

Yup, DOT for US50 and I80. It was freaking foggy and rainy, though, so don't expect to make a speed run.
posted by kcm at 3:33 PM on March 31, 2006

Judging from the torrential downpour Sacramento just got, I don't think the pass will be open for long. I vote for heading up tomorrow/next weekend.
posted by spork at 4:40 PM on March 31, 2006

If you can take 24 to 680 and then catch 80 a bit later on, you might save yourself some time. But I agree with everyone who votes "later is better."
posted by |n$eCur3 at 5:06 PM on March 31, 2006

"If you can take 24 to 680 and then catch 80 a bit later on, you might save yourself some time. But I agree with everyone who votes "later is better.""

Nope. He'll just get screwed when 680 hits 80 by Cordelia. That whole stretch of 80 through Cordelia/Fairfield/Vacaville absolutely blows ass. I've actually hit traffic up until Dixon before. Then it was fine until Davis, when all of the Sacramento traffic got in the way.

Bay Area traffic sucks. :(
posted by drstein at 11:32 PM on March 31, 2006

Well, looks like 80 has been closed until 1:30AM, so I truly hope epugachev made it through before the storm. If so, please do enjoy the best day of skiing/ snowboarding evar!
posted by |n$eCur3 at 1:08 AM on April 1, 2006

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