Highway 50 reopens after heavy Sierra snowfall caused closure; I-80 still closed

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The Latest – Monday, Dec. 27:

8:53 p.m.

Caltrans reports that Highway 50 is now open, and chains are required on vehicles, except for those that are properly equipped for conditions.


Original Story Below:

(KTXL) — Snow levels reached lower elevations Monday, leading Caltrans to shut down major mountain highways through the Sierra.

For many drivers, it was a frustrating morning in Colfax. 

The mountain community, which sits 2,400 feet above sea level, got its fair share of snow overnight and throughout the day Monday. 

“The snow here is really soft, so I had to pull a shovel to get unstuck,” one driver told FOX40. “Luckily somebody was here and pulled me out with a rope, I’m good, I’m unstuck now.” 

Unstuck now but still unable to drive up the mountain on Interstate 80, as I-80 is completely shut down between Applegate all the way to the Nevada state line due to “poor visibility, whiteout conditions and heavy snow.” 

Crews also shut down Highway 50 between Placerville and Meyers, along with state Routes 49 and 20.  

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.  

That created issues for firefighters and California Highway Patrol officials trying to get to emergency calls and only made matters worse for PG&E as the electric company responded to a power outage impacting more than 69,000 customers. 

In the meantime, Caltrans anticipates mountain roads will remain closed for the day, with officials hoping to avoid drivers becoming stuck. Travelers are advised to visit the Quick Map website for the latest road conditions. 

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

Officials spent the weekend responding to collisions as travelers tried to navigate the conditions. 

At least 20 cars were involved in a series of collisions Sunday morning on Highway 395 in Nevada. At least six people were injured. 

Caltrans acknowledged closures are frustrating, but officials stressed public safety is the priority.

“Expect some delays, have some patience and keep up to date on what’s going on, and when the weather is really fierce, try to avoid traveling during those conditions and try going the next day because we don’t want anyone to get stuck out there,” advised Caltrans District 3 spokeswoman Angela DaPrato.

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

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