Margaret Moran

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January 15, 2013
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Recent Tahoe-area cold front brings frigid temperatures, but not historic area lows

TRUCKEE, Calif. - Many residents walking outside Tuesday morning could be seen bundled in heavy jacket and wearing hats and gloves, their breath coming out in puffs as the temperature hovered in the single digits.

Tuesday marked roughly the fifth consecutive day of chilly weather in the Tahoe/Truckee region, which has seen temperatures as low as minus-18 degrees Sunday morning in Truckee, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

"I've seen it get this cold before, and it's hard on the cars, it's hard on the people," said John Creveling, a 34-year Truckee resident, who was working outside Tuesday morning.

The recent cold snap is result of cold air being pushed from Canada and the Arctic, and without winds or high pressure to move the cold front along, it has settled in the Sierra and across the West, said Edan Lindaman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

"(It's) below seasonal normal, but not exceptional," she said.

Mark McLaughlin, a longtime Tahoe weather historian, echoed that, saying Truckee reached minus-28 degrees in December 1990, and during a cold snap in the winter of 1989, the temperature at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport reached minus-35.

"There have been many other more severe cold waves in the region that are too numerous to mention," he said.

While 43-year Truckee resident Joel Williams recalls that recorded minus-35 temperature, he, along with Truckee resident Karen Terrey, said the past few days have been colder than they remember it being in recent history.

"I'm OK with it," Terrey said. "I like it. It makes you appreciate all the seasons a lot more."

Terrey said pipes in her home burst Tuesday morning after being frozen for three days, adding that she had placed a heater in her crawlspace the day before.

On Lake Tahoe's South Shore, Lindaman said record cold temperatures were recorded Saturday at minus-12 degrees in the early morning - the old record was minus-7 for Jan. 12 - and on Sunday at minus-14 degrees - the old record being minus-6 for Jan. 13.

The frigid temperatures took their toll on water pipes within four South Shore casinos by Monday morning.

According to the Associated Press, burst pipes Monday at Harrah's casino sent thousands of gallons into the main, 18-story tower and a high-roller gambling area, temporarily disabling the resort's elevators. Two sprinkler heads broke at Harvey's casino, and another broken pipe sent water into the loading dock at the Horizon casino. At the MontBleu, an antifreeze system meant to prevent pipe breakage froze. No injuries were reported.

Temperatures are anticipated to rise this week as high pressure in the Pacific moves inland, but with strong valley inversions present, only a "gradual warmup" is anticipated, according to NWS.

"It's going to get warmer slowly, but surely," Lindaman said.

In the meantime, experts advise people to have heat tape on pipes and let faucets drip to help keep pipes from freezing, bundle up when going outside, have extra clothes and other emergency supplies in their vehicle and don't leave pets outside.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 15, 2013 07:40PM Published Jan 15, 2013 07:38PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.