Tahoe shivers under wintry weather
A pile of hot cocoa cups discarded in the Camp Richardson store’s trash this weekend signaled it is that time of year to walk flat footed and drive carefully.
Just ask the fewer-than-usual trick-or-treaters and their escorts who braved the blustery conditions to celebrate Halloween.
“Winter is here,” National Weather Service meteorologist Rhett Milne declared Sunday, two days after a snowstorm blew through the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Milne said forecasters were taken by surprise as the season’s first snowfall that hit Friday became more than expected.
“We had a pretty good feel we were going to get snow, but not in these amounts,” he said.
The storm kept the California Highway Patrol busy, reporting seven fender benders on Friday out of the Tahoe station. No traffic collisions involved serious injuries, but some close calls provided jitters among those who had to receive a quick crash course in how to drive in snow again.
“Every time it snows, we tell people to slow down, plan better, and give more space,” CHP Sgt. Mike Stewart said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department responded to 14 calls of traffic-related incidents. Kingsbury Grade closed a few times, and chains were required at one point over Spooner Summit.
Emerald Bay Towing had a slew of calls for incidents on mountain roads, in particular over Luther Pass.
But many people stayed home, and business tended to show that. Port of Subs reported a slow Sunday, taking in a mere $75 by noon, half the usual amount.
At lake level, 6 to 10 inches of snow was on the ground by Saturday morning. Above 7,000 feet, more than a foot accumulated – opening the door for Tahoe’s first ski resort to start the season. One chairlift and one run were open at Boreal ski resort at 7,200 feet on Donner Summit.
On the South Shore, Heavenly Ski Resort reported 5 inches of natural snow to add to its manmade cover. Heavenly can make snow when temperatures are below 27 degrees.
“The cold temperatures are continuing. It will be hard to get out of the 40s (for a high),” Milne said.
A normal high at this time of year is about 50 degrees.
Today, the chance of snow will continue into the afternoon. Meteorologists are expecting 3 to 6 inches at lake level and 8 to 10 inches above 7,000 feet. Strong winds will subside this evening.
A short reprieve will give way to another system headed this way by Thursday, Milne added. That system should be warmer, but not by much.