Kevin MacMillan and Jen Schmidt

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December 23, 2008
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Lake Tahoe weather update: winter storm coming

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev." The next big Tahoe snowstorm is forecast for today and Christmas Day, and it could bring as much as two feet of white stuff to higher elevation levels in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin.

For many, that spells good news at maybe the perfect time of year.

"That would be the best Christmas present," said Milena Regos, Incline Village General Improvement District Marketing Director. "We need more snow, and we need it for our customers. Hopefully it won't scare people away, but we need it."

According to the national weather service in Reno, the basin will be under a winter storm watch from this afternoon through Thursday afternoon.

A strong and wet Pacific storm is expected to move in today from the West Coast, bringing rain and snow to Northern California and Nevada through Thursday.

"This storm will bring strong winds to higher elevations, with the potential for significant snowfall," according to the weather service.

When it comes to Tahoe, the words "significant snowfall" are a welcome phrase

"We're very excited. We're from Marin County and we didn't know about the storm, but that is pretty exciting," said Mark Puckett, who is visiting from San Anselmo, Calif. "Skiing will be kind of tough with the little guys, they're two and five. But I know the resorts definitely needed some snow and I heard the lake level's kind of low, so that's great. I only hope they get more after that."

According to the forecast, light to moderate snow is expected this afternoon, with heavier snowfall expected overnight and into Thursday.

"Around one foot of snow is possible at lake level and in lower valleys, with around 2 feet of snow possible in the High Sierra west of Highway 395," according to the watch.

"We're excited (for the storm) because we came from El Salvador, so it's always good to come and see the snow," said Enrique Rais, of El Salvador. "We love it. But we'll have to get ready and be prepared."

Despite the potential for great skiing, the storm also brings to the area a dangerous holiday element.

According to NWS, winds should be very strong as well, with gusts of 50 mph possible at lake level, with the potential for 120 mph gusts along the Sierra ridges.

Things should calm down Friday, as the forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of light snow.

Motorists are encouraged to be safe, as travel should be impacted greatly by this storm. Continue to check throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for updated weather and road conditions.

Of course, there's usually one big drawback to a big Tahoe storm " just ask Mitchell Cornell, and Incline resident ant 10-year-old member of the Diamond Peak Ski Team.

"I'm half excited because the mountain will be filled up (with snow), but I'll have to shovel my deck ..."

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 24, 2008 04:24PM Published Dec 23, 2008 07:30PM Copyright 2008 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.