Say it ain’t snow
May 9, 2003
One could say it’s Mother Nature having the last word.
On Wednesday, the average high temperature matched the warmest low on record from 1989 — 46 degrees. The lowest mark of the mercury came in at 16 degrees in 1950.
“We’ve been running about 4 to 6 degrees below,” said Gary Barbato of the National Weather Service about regional temperatures. April churned out temperatures that were 3 degrees below normal for the entire month.
The unseasonably cold temperatures and snow in April and now May have confused local residents and businesses as well as tourists — who have showed some reluctance to visit the South Shore with winter weather but no ski resorts open. But then again, it’s Tahoe for those savvy enough to expect nature’s brush with whimsy.
The weather bureau predicted the few inches of snow that fell Thursday to subside today, with a slight chance of wet conditions through the weekend. A roller coaster of temperatures may resume through the week.
As the summer season nears its official launch in a few weeks, the Camp Richardson Mountain Sports Center answering machine said it best about the schizophrenia of May weather at the basin: “We’re currently renting snowshoes and bicycles.”
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“(The weather) has kept us flexible,” Camp Richardson General Manager Chris Knox said, adding a concern the winter-like conditions in spring will influence “the complacency factor” among guests.
“It definitely makes you run a business by the seat of your pants. But it’s a trade-off. We’ll take the water for the marina,” Knox said.
Kmart manager Mary Grant said Thursday that customers, in particular locals, seem tired of the prolonged winter. Many are ready to move on to summer’s water sports. But the weather dictates the activity.
“It’s snowing outside, and I’m showing a wall of bikinis (in the store),” she said.
The mass merchandiser has noticed slow sales in items in its summertime displays, such as barbecues, beach towels and bathing suits.
Grant said the store has already tapped into the inventory of other Kmarts trying to dump their winter gear, like jackets. But there are still holes in the inventory.
“I had a softball team in here from Virginia a few weeks ago standing there looking for hats and gloves,” she said, adding that ordering inventory has been challenging. “I know that once the sun breaks out though, they’ll all be in. It just makes it tough.”
The wet conditions have made it tougher for other sporting events on the other side of town, too. A group of 30 golfers were signed up to play at Edgewood Tahoe on Thursday morning. Course management was forced to turn them away.
“I would say at this time of year people don’t line up,” Edgewood manager Bobby King said, also recalling winter’s strange, hot-to-cold patterns. “They could have played in February.”
King said the snow and rain this late in the season have hindered the growth of the grass, taxing the expertise of its grounds crew.
“We should be mowing a lot more,” he said.
Edgewood opened Tuesday, booking up from July through September.
The new management of Strawberry Lodge since February needs the weather to clear up by next weekend. Assistant General Manager Rick Ghramm expects a group of 400 people to stay on the lodge off Highway 50. They’ll need to stage some events outside.
The weather has also affected campground bookings of California State Parks.
“It actually hurts our revenue. People don’t show up,” said state parks landscape architect Don Michaely, who’s scrambled to get the sites in shape before the Memorial Day weekend openings.
Michaely said he’s unconcerned unless the wet weather continues for the next few weeks.
“We go into this knowing there could be inclement weather,” he said.
— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org