I’m ashamed to admit it, but Google Maps has become a crutch for me while driving. Even if I’m in a familiar area, I find myself consulting it for driving advice. This mentality has proven disastrous for those in the Lake Tahoe region. Despite record snowfall in the area, Google Maps is sending drivers down hazardous roads, endangering their lives.
Lake Tahoe is seeing record amounts of snowfall this year, leading to many road closures. However, modern navigation software isn’t keeping up, particularly Google Maps, and is leading drivers down dangerous roads. When sections of I-80 were closed Monday, navigation systems recommended alternate routes. The problem here is these routes were not viable options, making it particularly treacherous, Jalopnik reports.
Tahoe National Forest’s Twitter account quoted a tweet from Caltrans District 3, and provided additional warnings to Lake Tahoe drivers. Certain areas like Rollins Lake and Henness Pass are either closed off or way too dangerous for travel.
“The same can be said for Henness Pass,” the account informed drivers. “Please don’t try to take Henness Pass. If your GPS tells you to take it, ignore your GPS, it’s not going to happen. Check the CalTrans Quickmap (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov) and follow our local @CaltransDist3 for the best road updates.”
Sören Meyer-Eppler, a tech lead at Google said he’s “worked on this problem” before. He is now informing people on Twitter why this problem exists. For instance, Google doesn’t tell drivers it lacks sufficient data because that would add a third variable, rather than just stating a road is closed or open. This could greatly complicate driving advice it provides, even in fair conditions.
Nonetheless, in hazardous driving conditions, it may be best to inquire locally for good routes if things seem dicey.
Lake Tahoe’s Recent Snowfall Smashes December Snow Record
As stated, Lake Tahoe is experiencing vast snowfall uncommon to the area. As it turns out, it’s so plentiful it smashes the previous December record.
According to Yahoo!, Lake Tahoe’s snowfall exceeds 16 feet as of now. Additionally, “The Lake Tahoe Basin is sitting around 200 percent of average for snow water equivalent – the amount of water that will be released from the snowpack when it melts – from this time of year,” a tweet on the subject reads.
Specifically, Lake Tahoe typically gets around three inches of snow a year. At its worst, the area receives snowstorms of five inches about 29 times a year. Obviously, that’s not the case in 2021. Yahoo! again sheds light on the snowfall, saying the previous record occurred in 1970 with 179 inches. This year, the UC Berkely Central Sierra Snow Lab reached 193.7 inches, making it beat the former record by more than a foot.