Snow storm to make roads challenging for Tahoe holiday visitors

Forecasters are predicting a white Christmas in Tahoe, so much of one, that CHP Truckee and the National Weather Service are warning drivers, to expect some hazardous conditions on the roadways.

"Kind of looking through our long range forecast and everything that’s going only, we’re looking at quite a bit of snow every day going forward through Christmas," said CHP Truckee Offiecer Pete Mann.  

The NWS is warning that travel could be difficult to impossible at times over the Sierra through the week, prompting some to rethink their planned Tahoe getaways.

"We were going to go up today and stay tonight and then found out that the road conditions were going to be really bad," said Jeffrey Wang, who was picking up his skis Tuesday at Sports Basement in Berkeley. After being stuck in other large storms in Tahoe, Wang decided to delay his planned trip to Tahoe with his son.

"I don’t think it’s worth taking a 14-year-old and getting stuck up there," said Wang.

Speaking to KTVU on Tuesday evening, Tahoe area ski expert Kevin "Coop" Cooper says the window to beat the storm is running out.

"You know the highways up here, I80, Highway 50, and State Route 58 out to Kirkwood Mountain Resort, it’s going to be a challenging time," said Cooper.

"Know what’s going on ahead of time and try and plan around that weather window," said Mann.  

For those still making the trip up, CHP is reminding travelers to practice putting chains on their cars ahead of time, to take it slow, and to stay up to date on the latest forecast and road conditions.

"Have emergency food and water in your car, because sometimes the summit shuts down for a while," added Mann.

Meantime, those already up in Tahoe, are welcoming the additional snow. A number of area hotels are at capacity with guests arriving once again for the holidays.

"People really haven’t gone out, and gone to a destination for Christmas in a few years, some longer, so yeah it’s a joyous time," said Steve Woods of Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, which is sold out through Christmas.  

It's a joyous time for the ski resorts too. 

Heavenly Mountain Resort picked up more than two feet of snow in the last seven days and Palisades Tahoe was blanketed with over three feet of snow during the same period. But with more snow on the way, experts say, be prepared for some operating delays. 

"Let ski patrol do their jobs," Cooper said. "They’re going to be doing a lot of avalanche mitigation. Especially if we see several feet. Let the patrol get out there. They’ll open as safely as possible and as quickly as possible for their guests and everybody to have a great Christmas experience. It’s the holidays, again the best in over a decade."