Winter Weather Emergency
Town Manager Issues Local Emergency Proclamation for Severe Winter Storms
Truckee Town Manager Jen Calloway, acting as the director of emergency services, has issued a local emergency proclamation for the Town of Truckee to leverage all available tools from local, state, and federal resources in response to potential impacts from the forecasted atmospheric river. The emergency proclamation allows the director of emergency services to waive procurement rules and issue emergency orders to address a fluid and changing situation. The proclamation provides for greater flexibility and expedites procurement of goods and services in responding to emergencies resulting from the forecasted storm, while still protecting public safety priorities and the taxpayers’ interests.
Emergency proclamations are formal documents recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and other governmental agencies, which will then be able to direct disaster relief funds and other key personnel resources to our jurisdiction, should the need arise.
This emergency proclamation is a proactive step and does not indicate any community-wide closures. To stay up to date on the latest information on winter and extreme weather preparations, visit townoftruckee.com/winterinfo and follow @townoftruckee on Facebook and Instagram.
~ Town of Truckee press release
Alarming Increase in Snow-Related Gas Leaks, Carbon Monoxide Emergencies
North Tahoe firefighters are responding to a significant increase in carbon monoxide emergencies throughout the region, many of which result in positive CO readings upon arrival, with occupants/patients showing symptoms of varied severity. Many of these incidents are the result of heavy snow build-up on combustion-appliance venting, buried foundation vents, and improper or snow-obstructed home generator ventilation systems. Gas leaks are also on the rise due to deeply buried propane tanks, above ground propane plumbing, and buried natural gas meters impacted by the snow. The repetitive freeze-and-thaw cycles following winter storms combined with the weight of the snowpack places glacial-like torsional stress on tanks and propane plumbing systems, causing dangerous leaks. Since Jan. 1, hazard calls have accounted for nearly 20% of non-EMS incidents.
Roof snow shedding, which is always a danger to people and pets, is also a danger to gas meters, propane tanks, and above-ground gas plumbing, and another common cause of leaks. Gas leaks caused by snow removal efforts are also reported.
North Tahoe Fire Protection District urges residents to use caution while clearing snow from rooftops. “Be aware to stay well clear of the 240V power service drops that may be covered in snow by roof cornices,” said Chief Steve Leighton. “An aluminum shovel or ladder that comes into contact with a power service drop can easily electrocute and kill a person.”
Propane tanks/cylinders, gas lines, and regulators and appliance vents need to be continuously maintained throughout the winter by keeping them cleared of snow and ice buildup.
~ North Tahoe Fire Protection District newsletter
County Advises to Clear Snow From Rooftops Prior to Incoming Rains
Placer County officials are advising residents and businesses in snow-affected areas to safely clear their roofs of snow loads as much as possible prior to the anticipated atmospheric river in the coming days.
A snow load on a rooftop can become even heavier by absorbing rainwater, which makes a structure even more susceptible to collapse in addition to a higher likelihood of snow sliding and flooding.
These advisories are in effect both for the Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas, but also at lower elevations where this year’s snow is well above average. Residents should be especially cautious if they are in a home built prior to the 1960s, before Placer County enacted stricter snow-load standards. The Building Services Division of the Placer County Community Development Resource Agency says potential heavy snow danger signs include:
- Visual deformation or sagging of beams and other parts of a building’s structural support system.
- Newly developed cracks, particularly any which appear above windows or doors and where beams and other support structures are located. Minor cracks that expand or contract could be indications of building movement.
- Doors and windows that suddenly become significantly harder to open or do not open at all, a sign that a building is potentially settling.
- Water leaks inside buildings.
- Recent buckling of interior or exterior siding and finishes, which may be a symptom of settling.
- Sprinkler heads being pushed down below ceiling levels.
Life safety is of the utmost importance. If there is any doubt about the integrity of a roof in such extreme snow conditions, then the building or area should be evacuated until professional advice can be sought.
If a heavy snow load has already been allowed to accumulate, a professional service may be needed to safely remove the snow from your roof.
Residents and businesses should also monitor roof vents, chimneys, and flues for blockage due to snow build-up.These systems need unobstructed access to outside air to properly ventilate. Blockages can lead to carbon monoxide build-up in buildings creating a potentially unsafe interior environment. The heavy snow may also cause chimneys to shift creating potential falling hazards.
Anyone who smells propane or natural gas inside or outside a building should call 911 immediately. They also should avoid smoking, starting engines or motors, turning on cooking appliances, using heating-air conditioning systems, or using other ignition sources.
For up-to-date winter storm information from Placer County, visit placer.ca.gov/placerreadydash.
~ Placer County press release
Snow on School Roofs
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District regularly monitors snow loads for all facilities to ensure a safe learning environment. With the substantial snow over the last few weeks, the team diligently assessed the snow load to ensure structures remain within building code requirements and can provide a safe environment for students and staff.
Through that analysis, TTUSD found that on some of the older portions of two schools, Truckee Elementary and Truckee High School, the amount of snow was exceeding the snow load rating during the week of March 6. Those portions of the buildings were constructed back in the 50s and 60s when there were less stringent snow load requirements.
Immediately, the district maintenance team, in partnership with outside contractors, began working to reduce snow from those schools’ roofs. Due to this, Truckee Elementary had a snow day on Tuesday, March 7. For Truckee High School, since those students have access to school-issued Chromebooks, they had two digital asynchronous workdays on Tuesday, March 7, and Wednesday, March 8. Due to the in-person instruction occurring at other TTUSD schools on those days and needing to provide equitable access to instruction for all students, the district was able to switch to this digital instruction platform due to this very special circumstance. Please note distance learning continues to be restricted on a districtwide basis due to State of California requirements for instruction.
TTUSD utilizes a device called a federal snow sampler tube, which measures snow water equivalent. Staff uses it to record the depth and weight and then use that data to determine the snow weight on the roof. TTUSD’s facilities and maintenance teams are prepared to monitor all of our buildings during and after the atmospheric river weather event to ensure students are only brought into buildings when it’s safe.
~ Amber Burke, TTUSD Communications
Storm Damage Survey to Share Damage and Needs Data
Nevada County Office of Emergency Services has launched a Winter Storm Building Damage Survey to gather resident and business damage from the recent winter storms.
“Data shared from this survey will help us advocate for state and federal assistance to be made available to our residents and help communicate the widespread and urgent impacts that power and communications outages have on our community,” said OES Director Craig Griesbach.
Residents and businesses can help report storm damage like downed trees on their property or into structures, propane shortages, internet and phone outages, and dangerous snow loads that may threaten their building’s structural integrity.
The survey is not an application for assistance but will help gather damage information to assess and advocate for additional aid to be made available for individuals and businesses. Survey data will be kept private.
“We’ve had a local emergency in place to help pull in state resources that help address immediate needs like providing temporary showers for residents without power, but recovering and becoming more resilient as a community will take additional resources. To continue to advocate for our residents, we need reliable and comprehensive data,” added Griesbach. “The more impacted residents that take this survey, the better we can explain our needs.”
The survey is available at readynevadacounty.org/stormsurvey.
~ Nevada County press release
The Lake has Flipped
On Feb. 27 or 28, Lake Tahoe fully mixed vertically from top to bottom. Full mixing is an annual event in shallower lakes, though for Tahoe it is a less common occurrence. Lake Tahoe last mixed during the 2018/19 winter.
Most years, the mixing does not extend beyond 1,000 feet. On Feb. 1, the lake had only mixed to 500 feet. In less than four weeks, it had mixed a further 1,100 feet. On March 3, the entire lake was essentially the same temperature from top to bottom.
On Feb. 28, the two temperatures were equal, and the entire lake started freely mixing top to bottom.
Air temperature is the largest cause for mixture, not the intensity of individual storms. This has been a particularly cold winter, causing the lake to mix deeper and weeks earlier compared to most other years.
Mixing is extremely good for the lake as it renews the water at the lake bottom with oxygen-rich water from the surface. Mixing also helps cool the bottom of the lake, which slowly warms due to geothermal heating.
The deepest waters of the lake are also the clearest waters, so when they are mixed with the overlying water there is a short period of high clarity. This year, two days after mixing, the Secchi depth was an astounding 115 feet, almost 33 feet deeper than it had been a week earlier.
When deep mixing takes place, the bottom nutrients are carried all throughout the lake. In some years this is the largest source of nutrients to the lake surface and can lead to increased algal growth as well as a decline in lake clarity. In the coming months, Tahoe Environmental Research Center expects clarity to decrease as algae grow and fine particles begin entering the lake with the snowmelt.
~ TERC newsletter
2040 General Plan is Up For Adoption
The Town of Truckee 2040 General Plan, Downtown Truckee Plan, Environmental Impact Report, and Development Code/Zoning Map Amendments to implement the 2040 General Plan and SB2 are in the final stages for adoption.
The following dates should be noted:
- Planning Commission: Tuesday, March 21 and Wednesday, March 22. Planning commission will be reviewing documents and forwarding a recommendation to the town council.
- Town Council: Tuesday, April 11.The town council will review the documents and the planning commission’s recommendation and take action.
All meetings will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Truckee Town Hall (10183 Truckee Airport Rd.).
The final draft of the 2040 General Plan and Downtown Truckee Plan can be found at the following link: Final Draft General Plan & Downtown Plan
The staff report for the March 21 planning commission hearing and April 11 town council meeting will be published a minimum of five days before the hearing. You can visit this link for access to the staff reports or you can sign up for email notification.
~ Town of Truckee press release
Ikon Pass Covid Class Action Credit
A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against Alterra Mountain Company. and Ikon Pass. Several class action lawsuits were filed alleging that the March 2020 closures of Alterra ski resorts due to the Covid-19 pandemic prevented pass holders from accessing ski facilities. “Although we fully stand by the decision to pause operations in the face of unprecedented and unknown health and safety risks, we wanted to move beyond March 2020 and have agreed to a settlement resolution for our valued pass holders who were impacted,” Ikon Pass states on its website.
Eligible Ikon Pass holders for the 2019/20 ski season will receive a monetary credit on their Ikon Pass account. The credit amount is proportional to the number of days skied during the 2019/20 season. Those who did not use their pass prior to March 15, 2020, received full credit for the purchase price.
Palisades Tahoe is owned by Alterra Mountain Company and is an Ikon Pass destination.
Following Up on the Palisades Gondola Incident
On March 4, the Base to Base Gondola at Palisades Tahoe experienced a mechanical issue. While a cabin originating from the Palisades side was approaching the KT mid-station, a strong gust of wind caused the cabin to become stuck in the terminal. A witness stated that the gondola spun at least 270 degrees when it reached the station. No injuries were reported.
The incident caused the lift to be stopped for over an hour while 39 people were on the gondola in windy conditions. Palisades reported winds of 20 to 30 mph on the lower mountain with some stronger gusts. Palisades Tahoe told Moonshine Ink that the gondola can operate in winds up to 55 mph. If winds reach that speed a safety feature will automatically stop the lift. “We try to run every lift when weather and conditions permit. At the time this occurred, Gold Coast, Big Blue, Wa She Shu and the Funitel were operating,” said Partick Lacey, public relations manager for Palisades. The Base to Base Gondola has not reopened since the incident due to weather conditions. “The gondola has been inspected and is ready to run when weather and conditions permit,” Lacey said. “The Base to Base Gondola is a brand new installation with all new alignments (as opposed to a lift replacement) so there is absolutely a learning curve related to how it can operate in winds/various wind directions. In this case, we have no historical data related to how winds impact this gondola and its many aspects. We are conservatively approaching the operation of the gondola and learning about how it is affected by wind/wind direction. The Saturday event, and all of the elements related to it, have been very carefully examined by our team and the manufacturer so that we can make operational adjustments moving forward.”
Parading Proud in Purple
Tahoe Truckee True members marched proudly in their signature purple t-shirts at the Tahoe City SnowFest parade on March 4. Tahoe Truckee True is the grassroots arm of Sierra Watch, which is known for challenging developments in the name of conserving mountain landscapes. “We marched in celebration of the power of local voices and those who come and visit to witness the preciousness of this place,” said Robb Gaffney, a Sierra Watch advocate.
Fifty people signed up to march through the snow to represent Tahoe Truckee True in the parade. Gaffney expressed that community involvement is a driving force for Sierra Watch’s mission. “If the community rejects a development, it makes it much more likely that legally Sierra Watch can succeed. But, if the community doesn’t stand up it makes it a lot more challenging legally for Sierra Watch to win the case,” Gaffney said. “Our march was a symbol of the power of local voices and that we can determine what happens in our own backyards.”
Federal Changes to Impact Calfresh and Medi-Cal Recipients
Following changes in the federal budget passed by U.S. Congress, Placer County residents who are receiving CalFresh or Medi-Cal benefits will be impacted this spring as many pandemic-era emergency measures come to an end.
In April, CalFresh households will stop receiving the extra monthly Covid-19 payment, or “emergency allotment” they have been receiving. These extra payments started in 2020 during the pandemic and will end in March 2023.
Emergency allotments were an extra benefit in addition to regular CalFresh amounts and accounted for roughly $182 on average per household a month for Placer County residents during the federal public health emergency. The resulting decline in CalFresh EBT spending could also impact local grocers and restaurants since CalFresh dollars are generally spent locally and drive economic activity.
While Placer County Human Services does not have the authority to continue emergency allotments past the expiration date, in order to receive a maximum benefit, it is important to verify the county has residents’ most recent information (household size, income, childcare, and other costs) by double-checking their account at benefitscal.com.
The continuous enrollment provision, which had kept people continuously enrolled in Medicaid programs during the federal public health emergency, will come to a close at the end of March, meaning California will restart yearly eligibility reviews to decide if residents still qualify for Medi-Cal health coverage.
Letters about Medi-Cal coverage and renewals are expected to be mailed to clients in colored envelopes in waves starting in April.
~ Placer County press release
League Shares Results of Science and Innovation Projects
With snow piling up to historic levels in the Lake Tahoe Basin, summer is a distant thought for residents and visitors. The League to Save Lake Tahoe, an environmental advocacy and action organization dedicated to Keep Tahoe Blue, is already planning ahead to protect the lake once the snow melts.
The nonprofit released the results of two pioneering projects: one that uses a beach-cleaning robot to remove trash hidden in the sand, and another designed to measure the 2021 Caldor Fire’s impacts on the Tahoe ecosystem. The projects’ findings are shared through interactive story maps, where users are free to explore graphs, maps, videos, and images.
With this data at their fingertips, the league and natural resource managers can do things like identify sites in need of restoration after wildfire or design litter prevention efforts to target widespread plastic trash buried in beach sand. The story maps are featured on the league’s website, keeptahoeblue.org.
~ League to Save Lake Tahoe press release
Moving In, Moving On, Moving Up
Kimberly Chevallier Named TRPA Deputy Director
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has selected Kimberly Chevallier as the agency’s deputy director and chief partnerships officer, filling a position left open when the governing board chose Julie Regan to lead the agency after a national search.
Chevallier has worked at TRPA since 2014 and was the agency’s environmental improvement program division manager, a key role in which she oversaw the agency’s stormwater, aquatic invasive species, and forest health programs in addition to convening the many public and private organizations working collaboratively to restore Lake Tahoe and improve communities.
Chevallier earned her master’s degree in Public Administration and Environmental Policy from the University of Arizona and worked for 10 years with the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution before joining TRPA.
Since 1997, TRPA has served as the backbone organization of the environmental improvement program which has resulted in more than $2.7 billion invested in public and private water quality, transportation, and forest health projects. Chevallier’s experience in environmental policy and mediation helped grow the EIP partnership to more than 80 organizations, expanded funding, and strengthened accountability.
In her new role, she will continue to supervise the environmental improvement division and will expand her partnership building talents to the agency’s transportation, government affairs, and communication programs.
~ TRPA press release
JT Holmes Joins Peak Ski Company Executive Team
Peak Ski Company announced that professional skier and award-winning stunt coordinator JT Holmes has joined the company’s leadership team as senior director of innovation and business development. Launched by co-founders Bode Miller and Andy Wirth, Peak Ski Company’s 2022/23 lineup of high-performance Peak by Bode Miller alpine skis have been met with high praise from seasoned ski testers and consumers alike.
Holmes will report directly to Wirth and will be involved with the development and execution of the company’s strategic plans with an emphasis on all facets of business development in the U.S. and Europe, product innovation, design and development, and support of Peak’s innovative marketing programs and platforms.
Holmes began his ski career at Palisades Tahoe on the race team and then the freestyle ski team. As a sponsored athlete he has appeared in 30-plus ski films and been featured on 60 Minutes twice. He was a top competitor in big-mountain events for nearly two decades. He did his first B.A.S.E. jump at 22 and within months was pushing boundaries in the disciplines of wingsuit flying and ski B.A.S.E. jumping. He has 12 years of speedriding experience. Speedriding combines skiing with use of a high-speed parachute to fly down mountains and ski terrain and jump off cliffs that otherwise would not be accessible. Holmes continues to be at the leading edge of the human flight movement, pushing his sports to new heights.
~ Peak Ski Company press release