Every year around this time, it seems we do a blog on driving in Lake Tahoe during the winter months. And every year we find that it is more and more necessary. With more snow in the forecast and Miracle March on the horizon, if you have a Lake Tahoe vacation rental booked soon, these tips will come in quite handy.
Heading Up The Mountain
- Before you even leave your home, check the weather forecast on your travel dates. If CalTrans and CHP are telling you NOT to travel, do NOT travel. While most Lake Tahoe vacation rental agencies aren’t always flexible, we are one of the ones that will work with you as much as possible to ensure you still get your vacation and are able to play it safe. After all, we are locally owned and operated and we understand all the variables that come with life in a mountain town.
- If you do not have 4WD and snow tires, you will need to abide by the chain controls. Learn how to put these on so that if you find yourself having to pull over before you go up the mountain, you know what you are doing. Also, and this is important, do not wait until you are half way up the mountain and in the midst of a blizzard to put your chains on. Do it before. If you do it in the middle you have very few places to safely pull off, if at all. Not to mention, it clogs up traffic even more and if someone tries to stop last second because they can’t see you from far away due to limited visibility, you run the risk of getting severely injured and causing an unnecessary car accident.
- Even if you do have 4WD and snow tires, give other drivers plenty of space, go slow and avoid sudden braking, accelerations or turns. Just because your car is equipped for the weather doesn’t mean it is invincible.
- You may think there is no need to stock up on snacks, beverages and activities when you are planning on going to the grocery store before checking in to your Lake Tahoe vacation rental, but you will want to be prepared in the event you are stuck in your car for a while. Last year, several weekend warriors did not heed the warning from CalTrans and CHP and tried making the commute to Tahoe during a storm. Many of those people were stuck in their vehicle for 24 hours due to ill prepared drivers, car accidents and traffic being held for avalanche control. So get a case or two of water depending on how many people are traveling, enough food to get your through 24 hours (it isn’t a regular occurrence, but it does happen), extra chargers for devices, warm clothes and blankets and all the necessary things if you have children traveling with you.
Leaving the Mountain
- If another storm is scheduled for the same time you are planning on leaving, give us a call. Even if we cannot extend the dates on the Lake Tahoe vacation rental you are in, we may have another one that can accommodate you for an extra day or two.
- If it is over a holiday weekend, plan on leaving a day earlier than everyone else or a day later. This will keep you safe and out of hours of traffic as the mass exodus happens.
- Do not use GPS or GPS apps as a reliable source for alternate routes. One of the biggest issues we have been having is traffic being completely tied up throughout town as visitors use residential roads where locals live or going down roads that no longer exist or are for private land or residences. It ends up not saving any time, as hoped, and creates a safety issue as it keeps snowplows and emergency vehicles from being able to access other routes.
- All of the safety tips and advice you used coming up the mountain, employ those when leaving your vacation rental in Lake Tahoe as well.
Speaking of snowplows…..
These guys work tirelessly and around the clock during storms to keep roads safe for drivers and emergency vehicles. Use caution when you are behind a plow, passing or approaching. Also, whatever you do, do not crowd the plow. Not only is it not safe for you, but it isn’t safe for them. There can be snow discharged which can throw debris and snow at your vehicle and part of their equipment, such as the actual plow, can be blocked from your view due to the snow. Additionally, if they hit a berm or drift, they can shift, which may be in your lane. Give them space, room and a slow speed in which they have the space to operate safely. This next part should go without saying, but if you are in front of one, do not brake suddenly. Just like a semi, they cannot stop as fast as you can. If you don’t know if your vacation rental in South Lake Tahoe includes snow removal, call and find out. We saw way too many visitors park on the street in the middle of the storm because they booked with a company or homeowner who didn’t provide snow removal and they didn’t have the resources to do it themselves. This prevents plows and emergency vehicles from safely accessing roads. Additionally, you get a fine and can be towed if you park your car on the street in the winter. If a plow hits you, they are not liable and you will be on the hook for damages to your car.
If you are booking a vacation rental in Lake Tahoe through us and you aren’t familiar with snow, ask us questions. We’d be happy to help as we want all of our guests to have fun and be safe.