Expert: ‘Grim’ snowpack in Tahoe Basin can quickly change with 1 storm

This Feb. 2, 2017 file photo shows fog and mist shroud the snow-covered Sierra Nevada near Echo Summit, California.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File | AP

The snowpack in the Tahoe Basin is “grim” right now, but at this point one cold storm could quickly turnaround everything, according to one expert.

The snowpack in the Tahoe Basin is 35 percent of median, said Jeff Anderson, water supply specialist with the Nevada Natural Resources Conservation Service. Rainfall totals are 113 percent, he added.

He said Thursday, Dec. 14, a snow station that sits at 8,500 feet at Heavenly Mountain Resort recorded snowpack of about 75 percent while a station at Squaw Valley recorded over 100 percent. Both resorts have slightly stronger snowpacks so far this season. Mt. Rose also is above the median.

“But below 8,000 feet, we have minimal snow,” Anderson said. “The difference was that we had more snow at lower elevations last year. The storms were colder. As the days tick by, those percentages will continue to look grim for every dry day we have. It’s been so dry since the last storm. Typically, we’re getting storms right now.”

“At this time of year, it can turn around quickly. A cold storm would really help. We’ll forget all this again next year if a big, cold storm comes through.”-Jeff Anderson,Water supply specialist

On the same date last year, the basin was at 69 percent.

Last year, the meteorological catch phrase seemed to be “atmospheric rivers.” So far, about a week before winter officially begins, the saying “high-pressure system” has dominated the forecasts — and made snow lovers cringe and mutter obscenities under their breath. It also makes some rejoice after spending what seemed like more time with their snow shovels last year than their loved ones.

A large high-pressure system has been sitting off the entire West Coast forcing storms north, over the western United States and settling on the East Coast, Edan Weishahn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Reno, told the Tribune.

“It’s kinda been a bummer,” Weishahn said. “I’d rather have storms once a week that come through and clear out the air and dump snow on the mountains. There’s a high-pressure area off the entire West Coast and a low-pressure area in the east. Thankfully over the next week, it looks like that high pressure is going to move.”

She said it’s very unpredictable, but we might see some small snow showers. However, it doesn’t look like there are any serious winter storms that are going to come through before the end of 2017.

Last winter, intense winter storms pounded the Tahoe Basin in January.

“At this time of year, it can turn around quickly,” Anderson said. “A cold storm would really help. We’ll forget all this again next year if a big, cold storm comes through.”

As for this weekend, the National Weather Service on Friday reported a slight chance of snow showers early Saturday. Mostly sunny conditions are expected later in the day, with wind gusts up to 30 mph. Sunday also is expected to be sunny. High temperatures through the weekend will likely range from the mid 30s to low 40s.

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