As Spring begins there is already considerable snowmelt occurring in the lower elevations, especially around lake level. In fact many places are completely snow-free.
The lake is only a couple of feet below what’s considered completely full and is expected to reach that level once the runoff from the upper elevations begins. They’ve been releasing water through three gates at the dam and as the lake continues to rise more gates will probably have to be opened.
Needless to say there will be plenty of rafting opportunities this Spring and Summer. In fact there may be too much water for awhile because there are some low clearance bridges between the dam and the take-out point and if the water is too high a raft can’t pass under them.
The roads took a real beating this past winter so be prepared for a lot of delays while the road crews work to repair potholes and such. Hey, if you gotta be stuck in traffic there probably isn’t a more scenic place to sit and wait than Tahoe.
In the 1980s we were on a trip out west. We stopped at the junction of US 6 and SR 120 to get gas. I wanted to go to Yosemite so we asked if Tioga Pass was open. We were told they were still clearing the winter snow so it was still closed.
We headed west on SR 120. That road was a constantly up and down affair, like a roller coaster made up of continuous small dips. When we got to US 395 we followed it north and just outside of the town of Lee Vining we came to the junction of Tioga road. Sure enough, it was closed.
I really wanted to see Yosemite but we would have to go considerably out of the way to get there. My wife said that was ok, we could visit Lake Tahoe on the way. I’d never been there…in fact I’d never even heard of it.
It was already dark as we drove on through Lee Vining and continued northward. After what seemed like forever we entered the little town of Gardnerville and then Minden. Just outside Minden we pulled into a rest area.
I asked my wife how much further was Tahoe and she said it was up in the mountains just west of us. I told her I was exhausted and asked her to drive. We changed places and she headed for the mountains.
When we got over to the foothills things seemed a bit confusing for there was an arrow and a sign that said Lake Tahoe yet there was a partial barricade and a second arrow pointing a different direction. We finally decided to take the road that looked like it headed up the mountain to the lake.
After following what seemed like the narrowest and curve-filled road imaginable we finally arrived at the casinos. Since I had never been in a casino we parked and went into a couple of them for a little while. Soon, however, exhaustion overcame us and we found a nice motel room close by for some much needed rest.
In a future post I’ll continue this with the events of the next day when I actually got my first view of the lake.
Yesterday was quite a mess. Occasionally the sun would come out for a few minutes. Then the snow would return and we would be in whiteout conditions thanks to the gusty wind that was blowing.
Weather and road conditions were bad and traffic was so heavy on US 50 that it was taking westbound cars 4 hours to drive from the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe to Meyers. That trip normally requires only 5 minutes.
It continued to snow most of last night but finally this afternoon the storm is beginning to clear out.
Interstate 80 is closed in both directions from Colfax to the Nevada state line.
Hwy 88 is closed east and west of Kirkwood. If you want to get there you can’t and if you are already there you can’t leave.
Hwy 89 is closed on the west shore at Emerald Bay.
Mt. Rose highway is closed due to avalanche danger.
All other roads are open with chain controls.
Mt. Rose Ski Resort has had 22 inches so far.
Boreal over near Donner Pass has also had 22 inches.
We’re having some wind which is causing occasional whiteout conditions. All of the roads in the area are snow covered.
Well, we have a snow storm due in on Saturday…again.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning effective from Saturday beginning at 4 PM and lasting until Sunday at 4 PM. Snow could actually begin falling anytime after 10 AM on Saturday morning.
They’re saying possible accumulations of 1 to 2 feet above the 7,000 foot elevations and 12 to 18 inches at lake level.
To add to the fun gusty winds (50 mph) are expected so that means rough water on the lake and reduced visibility for driving…especially over the passes.
Expect chain controls, even on the roads in the Tahoe Basin.
If you’re coming up this weekend come prepared for winter weather…and be careful.