The Latest – Tuesday, Dec. 28

9:18 p.m.

Interstate 80 has reopened for passenger cars and essential truck traffic only.

4:45 p.m.

South Lake Tahoe officials said only essential travel is advised.

Officials are warning drivers that they could become stranded if they try to travel over the mountains, especially because emergency responders are having trouble getting through the heavy traffic.

The city said gas stations, towing services and lodging are all at or near capacity because of road closures, which include westbound Interstate 80. Resources in the city are also running out.

2:55 p.m.

Caltrans says eastbound Interstate 80 has reopened.

Passenger and essential commercial vehicles with chains will be allowed through from Alta to the Nevada state line.

“My number one tip for anyone planning to travel from Sacramento to Truckee and Reno or beyond is to slow down,” said Caltrans District 3 Public Information Officer Raquel Borrayo. “The roads are still very, very icy, chain controls remain in effect. If you do not slow down, you will crash and the road will close again.”

2:15 p.m.

Caltrans District 3 Public Information Officer Raquel Borrayo issued a warning to all people trying to go to and from Lake Tahoe Tuesday along Highway 50: “Just stay home.”

“The highway is at capacity. It cannot handle all of the people that are trying to get to and from South Lake Tahoe,” Borrayo said in a Twitter video. “We recommend that you just stay home.”

According to Borrayo and South Lake Tahoe officials, first responders are getting stuck in traffic and unable to get to their jobs.

“While the state agencies, counties, and cities around Tahoe are working diligently to clear the roads, the more vehicles that are on the roads, the greater strain it puts on all services. It limits snow removal operations and creates unnecessary challenges for first responders, only prolonging the poor road conditions,” the city wrote.

Borrayo said drivers who want to travel on Highway 50 could experience “significant, significant delays,” with travel times of 10 hours or more.

Original story below:

COLFAX, Calif. (KTXL) — Interstate 80 remains closed Tuesday morning after heavy snowfall prompted officials to close it Sunday.

I-80 is closed from Colfax to the Nevada state line, Caltrans reported. Sections of state routes 20, 89, 49, 70, 174 and 267 are closed as well.

Highway 50 was reopened in both directions Monday evening after also being closed Sunday. All vehicles are required to have chains unless equipped with four-wheel drive.

The highway was closed Tuesday morning from Sand Flat to Meyers due to a jackknifed big rig. It reopened just after noon but not before causing more delays along an already crowded route.

Travelers are advised to visit the Quick Map website for the latest road conditions.

“Poor visibility, whiteout conditions and heavy snow” prompted officials to begin closures. 

At Donner Pass in the Sierra, officials with the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory on Monday said recent snowfall has smashed the snowiest December record of 179 inches (4.6 meters), set in 1970. The record is now 193.7 inches (4.9 meters), and more snow is expected.

For first responders, like Cal Fire’s Edwin Zuniga, the snow is not the only issue.

“Power lines down through the whole highway and multiple trees,” Zuniga explained.

Downed power lines created issues for firefighters and California Highway Patrol officials trying to get to emergency calls and only made matters worse for Pacific Gas and Electric crews responding to a power outage impacting more than 60,000 customers.

PG&E said crews are working diligently to restore electricity. As of now, there is no estimated time of restoration.

The city of Lake Tahoe has put together a list of available overnight accommodations with the help of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging leadership.

“This list is not exhaustive and is in no way an endorsement of any of the establishments on behalf of the City, but is intended to be used as a resource only.”

Officials said the following locations are priced at a “reasonable rate.”

  • Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, 530-544-5400, Suites
  • Hotel Azure, 800-877-1466, Hotel Rooms
  • Lakeland Village at Heavenly, 530-544-1685, Condominiums
  • Forest Suites Resort, 530-541-6655, Hotel Rooms and Suites