Almanac: Expect a ‘polar coaster’ |

Almanac: Expect a ‘polar coaster’

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Getting ready for winter, best friends Amy Roaldson, 11, left, and Zarina Jaegers, 11, try on a parka at Heavenly's annual Labor Day weekend ski and snowboard sale.

Soak up the sun’s warmth while you can. Because if you’re one affected by weather, as many in Tahoe are, the folksy, homespun source for seasonal forecasts predicts a colder than normal winter from coast to coast.

The Farmer’s Almanac calls the cold condition a “polar coaster,” after the nation had one of its warmest winters on record. Forty-one states had temperatures above average, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

For the upcoming winter, the venerable source since 1818 – which claims its forecasts are accurate at least 80 percent of the time – anticipates the United States’ mid section and the Pacific Northwest to be “especially snowy.”

The chilly forecast comes at a time of near-record fuel prices. And some predictions from weather watchers wonder if winter could come three to six weeks early. Some of the tree leaves have even begun to change and squirrels are out in flurry collecting nuts from pine cones.

The prediction received a mixed review from Tahoe types.

“I’m hoping it will be a good winter,” South Shore resident Robert Devitt said as he stood in line at the Heavenly Mountain Resort ski sale over the weekend. He bought used, fat Atomic skis for $200 with the promise of fresh powder this year.

Hope Schramm, who gave up the snow sports years ago, said she knows skiers like the cold winters but others don’t.

“I’m a fair-weather person. I know we need (the water), but there’s no place like Tahoe in the summer, and the winters just seem too long,” Schramm said while picking up her mail at the Post Office off Al Tahoe Boulevard Sunday.

Last season Tahoe endured a particularly wet winter – one that caused $9 million in damage to El Dorado County public infrastructure and private assets over the New Year’s holiday weekend alone. The federal and state governments had listed the county as a disaster area able to receive aid.

Many powder hounds found their terrain was doused with a next-day compaction when it would rain over the layer of snowpack.

South Lake Tahoe landscaper Alejandro Pulido smiled when he thought of the prospect of a hefty winter.

“That would be good news because I do snow removal (too),” said Pulido, who added that business had fallen last year because snow often turned to rain. “I hope (the Almanac is) right.”

Steve Brown agreed with Schramm. He’s done skiing and doesn’t enjoy the consequences of colder-than-usual temperatures.

“We’ve had two heavy winters in a row. We’re due for a respite. It’s fine if you’re a snow bunny, but I could do with less trauma from bursting pipes and ice on the roads,” Brown said.

It may be anyone’s guess what will happen this winter.

The Western Regional Climate Center has a different picture of the winter outlook – at least through December. It predicts slightly warmer than usual temperatures for the Pacific region. The Climate Center also anticipates less precipitation for winter, but it will update the weather outlook later to “get a more definitive idea of the likelihood and intensity of a warm event in the next few months.”

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