If you are traveling to Lake Tahoe during the winter, be sure to check the road conditions for the major highways in the area. If you have an iPhone, add this California DOT page to your home screen to check on current conditions for 80, 89, 28 and 50. Highways 80 and 50 will cover the two routes to North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. Highway 89 runs from 80 to Lake Tahoe, and is also the route to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. Highway 28 covers the remaining loop around Lake Tahoe.
The Weather Channel application is also indispensable in that it offers a quite a bit more detailed information than the default weather app. Just be warned that the 10 Day Forecast is not entirely reliable because the situation can change. The forecast gets more accurate the closer you get to your travel date.
If you are not fortunate enough to own a vehicle with 4-Wheel Drive, buying snow chains in advance is advisable. At worst, if you don’t need or use the snow chains, you can always return them. If you may be installing snow chains or tire chains for the first time, view several of the snow chain installation videos on YouTube. Inevitably, the written instructions that accompany the tire chains will be a little unclear, so having seen someone install snow chains first will be absolutely helpful. You should be aware that different snow chains have different designs, so the installation process will not be identical across different makes. However, having some basic idea on how to install a snow chain will not hurt. Seriously, all manufacturers who sell products that require assembly or installation should upload a video to YouTube to demonstrate how easy (or hard) their product is to assemble or install.
When I first watched the above video, I could not fully appreciate all the tips it offered. For example, the Oregon DOT advises that the tire chain installer should wear a rain coat. I thought it was to shield the installer from the elements. However, when it came time to actually install the snow chains, I finally understood their advice. Reaching around the wheel to install the chain can get your jacket really dirty if you are not careful. Next time, I’ll bring a rain coat or a poncho.
I would also suggest that you bring a pair of latex gloves. I wore two pairs of gloves: latex gloves inside and leather work gloves outside. I suppose heavy duty rubbers gloves might work as well. Anyways, if it has snowed outside, the leather work gloves will get wet and soak through. That’s where the latex gloves come into play. You don’t want to be working with wet hands when the weather outside is in the 30s or lower.
Another tip is to extend your windshield wiper each night. Just pull it away from the windshield so that if snow falls overnight, your windshield wiper will not be frozen stuck to the windshield the next morning.