Storms are expected to bring much-needed rain and snow to South Lake Tahoe this week, but they will have little impact on the region’s extreme drought conditions.
Two storm systems will enter the area in the next few days, forecaster Scott McGuire said Tuesday. The first will hit Wednesday afternoon, and the second will arrive late Friday.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory effective from 4 p.m. today to 10 a.m. Thursday. That means enough rain and snow will fall overnight to warrant a statement of caution.
However, the system still won’t be as strong as larger Lake Tahoe storms, McGuire said.
“It’s kind of a run-of-the-mill winter storm,” he said, “not a major winter storm by any stretch.”
Lake level elevations are expected to receive 3 to 6 inches of snowfall by Thursday morning, whereas elevations of at 7,000 feet can anticipate 10 to 18 inches of snowfall.
The wet weather should lift Thursday afternoon and stay relatively dry and cloudy until the second storm system arrives late Friday.
More snow — about 2 to 4 inches at lake level and about 12 inches at 7,500 feet — will then fall overnight Friday and into Saturday morning, McGuire said. But the heaviest snowfall during this second storm should occur just south of Lake Tahoe, near Mono County.
On Sunday, the clouds are expected to clear out a little before what may be another storm in the middle of next week. However, McGuire said forecasts that far out could change dramatically over the next few days.
In the meantime, Lake Tahoe residents can expect high temperatures in the low- to mid-40s and low temperatures in the upper- to low-30s through the weekend. Winds are predicted to travel at about 15 to 30 mph at lake level.
As for the drought, Department of Water Resources surveyors hope to find “a bit more snow” when they measure snowpack water content for the third time this winter, according to a Monday press release. But the storms aren’t expected to make more than a dent on dry conditions.
“California is in the grip of a game-changing drought and we have no idea how long it will last,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said in a statement. “We already have been forced to set State Water Project allocations at zero, and we have nothing but more hard choices ahead until we see significant new amounts of rain and snow.”
As of Tuesday morning, snow water equivalent was at 44 percent of normal in the Lake Tahoe Basin, according to McGuire, and precipitation was at 60 percent of average.
DWR reported statewide snowpack at 23 percent of normal Monday and 19 percent of the average April 1 season total.
With major California reservoirs now dangerously low, Cowin stressed the importance of water conservation in Monday’s statement.
“One choice we all must make is to get serious about conserving water in our homes and places of work and make it a lifelong habit,” he said.