Blizzard conditions, monster winds and whiteouts continue in Tahoe

Blizzard conditions and whiteouts with multiple feet of snowfall in the Lake Tahoe region continued on Saturday. As many as 10 feet of snow is expected to fall in some of the higher elevations of the Sierra by the end of the weekend. 

A blizzard warning remains in effect through 10 a.m. Sunday for Nevada, Placer, Plumas, and Sierra counties.

So if you're thinking about heading to the Sierra over the next couple of days, you had better rethink those plans, because Interstate 80 is closed. To say traffic is a mess would be an understatement. 

California Highway Patrol has no word on when I-80 will reopen. The full closure is from Colfax to the state line. 

Travel in the region is dangerous. 

CHP reported multiple spin outs and jackknifed trucks on the stretch of roadway into the Sierra. Many trucks remain stranded on the roadway.

Crews are still working on vehicle recovery on Saturday morning as they evaluate conditions. 

Caltrans is working around the clock to clear major roadways. 

"We've had plow trucks, graters, and blowers, all three, doing their part all day," said Caltrans spokesperson Jeremy Linder. He said their ultimate goal is to keep highways open.

Still, drivers should expect delays and multiple road closures. Chain controls are in place for multiple roads, including U.S. Highway 50. Drivers in the eastbound direction are being held at Echo Summit.

You can find more information on chain controls from this Caltrans map.

Max Gordon, the Fox Weather correspondent in South Lake, said conditions from his vantage point were blustery with 35 mph wind gusts. "When we first got here mid-week, temperatures were in the low 40s. No snow on the ground of course, here at the base." 

Those temperatures have since plummeted to 18 degrees. He says the wind he's seen has been remarkable. One wind gust at Pallisades Tahoe was recorded at 190 mph. That's close to the record of 199 mph wind recorded in Nevada at Ward Mountain back in 2017.

As for ski resorts, Palisades Tahoe, Alpine, and Sierra Tahoe were closed on Saturday. 

Heavenly Mountain Resort had a delayed opening, and offered a reduced amount of terrain. 

"We got 10 inches the first day, 20 overnight, and it’s been snow all day today, so it’s been a lot of fun," said Heavenly Mountain Resort spokesperson, Cole Zimmerman about the currently open terrain.  

Still, the high winds have forced the Resort to continue to keep upper mountain lifts shut down for the moment.

"They can get wind gusts over 100 miles per hour. and that’s just frankly unsafe to have anyone on," said Zimmerman. "We do expect a delayed opening again [Sunday] as we perform avalanche mitigation, dig out more lifts…and clear parking lots, so just really appreciative of everyone’s patience as we open what we can."

It's best to check ahead to see which resorts are open before making any kind of trek in these blizzard conditions, especially where a blizzard warning has been in place for the past few days. 

Blizzard conditions are when there are more than three hours of 35 mph winds and visibility of less than a quarter of a mile. 

Meanwhile, Yosemite National Park remains closed at least through Sunday at noon. Park visitors were alerted late Thursday afternoon to leave as soon as possible, but no later than noon on Friday. 

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.


Tahoe blizzard: Everything you need to know

Since blizzards don't occur every day in California, we'd thought we'd break down what's going on and explain this weather phenomenon.