The Sierra was blasted for the second time in a week with nearly 16 inches of snow in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Only a few lingering showers are expected today.
The system that crept into the region early Tuesday morning gained momentum by 10 a.m., dumping heavy snow and causing multiple spinouts and fender-benders throughout the South Shore.
"Everything's slippery. It being the second snow of the season, you have a lot of people with semi-warn tires and no traction or people who have waited until the first of November to put on their snow tires," said California Highway Patrol officer Wayne Tillman. "My advice to these drivers: slow down."
It appears South Lake Tahoe got the brunt of the storm, with 16 inches of snow reported to the National Weather Service. Truckee received about 14 inches, and Mammoth Lakes got about 8 inches in town, said Jessica Kielhorn, NWS forecaster in Reno.
The early snow poses good news for the parched Sierra, which has suffered five seasons of drought. Ski areas are rejoicing as Sierra-at-Tahoe announced it would open Friday and Squaw Valley and Donner Ski Ranch on Saturday.
"It is definitely great. If you look at the numbers right now, we are way above normal for precipitation for the month of October," said Gary Barbato, NWS hydrologist.
In fact, more snow has fallen in October than what is considered average for the months of November and March, he said.
The level of Lake Tahoe, which slipped under its natural rim of 6,223, is climbing, Barbato said. For the lake to get back to its natural level, there needs to be about 3.5 inches more precipitation, or roughly 33 more inches of snow, he said.
"If the wet pattern continues, we should be there in no time," he said.