Snow bogs down Sierra travelers as storm ramps up; avalanche warning issued

Local News

(KTXL) — Sunday night, locals, businesses and those passing through were preparing for heavy snow and winds ahead.

Snow began to fall below 4,000 feet earlier in the day. 

By the evening, Interstate 80 became difficult to drive as snow continued to fall.

Tommy Tran, who lives in Sacramento, was just trying to get his family safely home. 

“I can barely see, so I have to drive like 30 miles or less to try to just keep the family safe,” Tran said.

So like many others, he paid to have a professional put chains on his tires.

Traffic was flowing by the evening hours, but the snow was coming down hard and steady. 

Although the roadways remained open, chains were required going over the summit.

“This is our first time being in snow, so we won’t forget it,” said Tran’s wife, Raychelle. 

Ray Santos was heading home to Reno after long hours on the road. He said he should have paid to have chains put on his car. Instead, he put the wrong size on his tires which had to be removed.

“We don’t really know how to put it on the cars,” Santos said.

Earlier in the day, cars were able to move down the freeway with only heavy rain to deal with.

“We drove our brother — he’s going home to the Philippines — and we drove until San Francisco International Airport. We drop him off and we got back here,” Santos explained. 

Nightfall seemed like a foreshadowing of things to come. Friday night, the Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the greater Lake Tahoe region.

“New storm snow today could begin to overload our already weak snowpack. This is especially concerning in areas where blowing snow will add additional load onto shaded slopes with previous snow coverage,” the Avalanche Center wrote Sunday morning.

“Tuesday to Thursday, tentatively, they’re talking about maybe shutting down the freeway, just with the wind that’s going to be happening,” explained Kingvale resident Tim Milas. “They’re saying we’re going to get some really good gusts.” 

Farther up the mountain into Truckee, some businesses were prepared for the storm to take full effect.

With even heavier snow in the forecast, it would seem obvious that many businesses would be closing their doors. But at Zano’s, they said that they’ve learned to adapt and are actually staying open for locals.

“We do candles, we get all the lanterns,” said Zano’s owner, Timbo Brown. “It’s a really fun place to be when the power goes out, and we know there’s going to be power outages with the storm.”

“They need this. They need a place to go, especially when the storms come in,” Brown continued.

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