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Resorts welcome snowfall

Susan Wood

The crawl of traffic and space between vehicles signaled a return of winter Wednesday – less than a week from a one-year anniversary that humbled many hardy Lake Tahoe residents.

At lake level, 8- to 12-inches of snow fell Tuesday night into Wednesday morning – keeping the California Highway Patrol on guard for spinouts.

And more is on the way through the week.

“We’re totally ready for this,” South Lake Tahoe street supervisor Scott Rogers said. He rode in the plow with one of his snow-removal workers Tuesday.

At Rogers’ house, The Weather Channel is a way of life. The longtime resident has lived through some big storms.

On Dec. 16, 2002, more than triple Tuesday night’s amount and strong wind gusts descended on the basin – knocking out power to 4,000 customers.

Flying debris, flashlights, clogged snowblowers, stranded motorists and fallen trees became the order of the day.

Tuesday night’s storm was hardly of the same magnitude, but the winter- storm warning issued by the National Weather Service panned out for skiers on the slopes Wednesday.

Heavenly received a 1- to 4-foot base. On Friday, it plans to open the Stagecoach section of the mountain and a new beginner area served by the Big Easy chairlift.

Sierra-at-Tahoe will fully open the West Bowl area today, with 16 inches of snow and counting from Tuesday night’s storm.

Chains or snow tires were required on Interstate 80 west of Reno and all roads over mountain passes and around Lake Tahoe Wednesday morning.

A jackknifed tractor trailer closed the eastbound lanes of I-80 just east of Soda Springs, Calif., early in the day. Chains also were required on U.S Highway 395 headed north out of Reno and headed south out of Carson City.

“We have very heavy snow on I-80 near Verdi” just west of Reno, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Stepien said Wednesday. He reported numerous minor traffic accidents, especially in the foothills on the north and western edge of Reno.

“People really need to slow down. Even if you are doing the speed limit, if you are over the speed for the conditions, you will be cited,” he said.

Today may provide Tahoe residents with the only break. The weather service predicts cloudy skies followed by a chance of snow Friday and overnight. Snow is likely Saturday night into Sunday.

“This early a prediction usually means a decent-size system. They’re not expecting this one to fall apart,” said Gary Barbato, a meteorologist for the weather service.

– Associated Press contributed to this story.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or swood@tahoedailytribune.com.