With countless travelers heading to the Lake Tahoe area for the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, meteorologists warn that a storm system is approaching the area and threatening to create dangerous driving conditions.
“We are expecting heavy snow to start over the Sierra this afternoon,” said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. Road conditions will be “pretty rough” through the weekend because of multiple rounds of snow with few breaks in between.
Travel to the Lake Tahoe area is tempting, with 66 inches of packed powder at Diamond Peak resort and several areas getting more than 2 feet of snow in the past 72 hours, per OnTheSnow.
In a Twitter post the weather service said travel is “HIGHLY DISCOURAGED” and advised being off the road by 1 p.m. Friday.
The area is expected to get “3 to 6 feet of snow possible between today and Monday,” said Chandler-Cooley.
This blanketing, combined with strong winds — gusting up to 55 mph — “can create whiteout conditions,” she said.
The consistent snow over the weekend will make it difficult for crews to clear the roads. If motorists feel they must travel during the weekend, they “should expect significant travel delays and even road closure,” according to Chandler-Cooley.
Those who ignore the warnings are urged “to drive slowly and carefully if they have to travel,” she said, especially on Saturday and Monday, when conditions are projected to be the worst.
Travelers should also prepare for the worst, and be equipped with chains, an emergency kit, winter clothes and extra food and water in case of extended road closures.