Chattering teeth mark change in temperature |

Chattering teeth mark change in temperature

Heaters and winter jackets went on Monday morning with people at South Lake Tahoe waking up to a low of 27 degrees.

By midday, bright sun warmed things up to about 62, which could be a high for the week. Troughs of low pressure heading down from Canada account for temperatures about 15 degrees below normal for this time of year.

“It’s going to be below average the rest of the week,” said Larry Brown, meteorologist at National Weather Service in Reno. “The high (today) should be 46 degrees.”

Forecasters say there is a chance for snow showers this afternoon.

“I’ve noticed it getting colder. For the first couple hours in the morning it’s really cold,” said Daniel Verrico, 31, of South Lake Tahoe. “This morning I broke out my winter jacket. But I’m looking forward to the snow coming so I can go out and start riding.”

Living in a city that loves to see it snow, talk of an El Ni-o or a La Ni-a can be overheard just about anywhere this time of year. But what’s really going to happen this winter? It depends on which meteorologist is making the prediction.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a moderate El Ni-o, a warming of water in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, at South Shore. A strong El Ni-o can ramp up snowstorms, like one did in the winter of 1997, but a moderate or weaker El Ni-o doesn’t have a clear impact on the weather.

“There’s not that much correlation with heavy winter precipitation,” Brown said. “We looked back at the data, some are below normal some are above normal.”

John James, state climatologist for Nevada, said if he had to bet on the weather this winter, he’d put money on the southern part of the state experiencing a wetter winter and the northern part of the state having a drier one.

“I personally don’t put a lot of stock in El Ni-o,” James said. “In the mountains, it really isn’t forecast.”

In other words, expect a typical winter in the Sierra Nevada; the prediction — nobody really knows.

The phenomenon of El Ni-o has been studied for about 20 years, said Howard Sheckter, an expert on weather of the eastern Sierra Nevada based at Mammoth. Its name, El Ni-o, the Christ Child, reflects the season it impacts, Christmas, Sheckter said.

La Ni-a is the term that describes the cooling ocean water, the opposite of El Ni-o.

“In light-to-moderate El Ni-os, there is really no bias either way for the central Sierra,” Sheckter said. “Out of the last nine episodes of weak to moderate El Ni-os, four were wetter than normal, four were drier than normal and one was normal.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at

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