Lake Tahoe snowpack best in western US; resorts shatter February snowfall records | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe snowpack best in western US; resorts shatter February snowfall records

Bill Rozak | brozak@tahoedailytribune.com

Lake Tahoe is the place to be this winter.

It holds the best snowpack in the western United States and the crowds are flocking to the world-class slopes.

Traffic has been insane, infuriating and downright miserable at times — all while the snow continues to fly.

February has been a record-breaking month for some Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

The snowfall has been so abundant that California is almost drought free.

“We broke our February snowfall record on Feb. 15,” Jaclyn Ream, Diamond Peak’s marketing coordinator told the Tribune Thursday. “Our previous record was during the ‘Snowmageddon’ 2016-17 season.”

Diamond Peak’s previous record of 134 inches has been destroyed this year with the resort recording 172 inches as of Thursday morning. More snow was falling into the afternoon.

Sierra-at-Tahoe also has crushed its record of 154 inches, previously recorded in 1997-98 and 2016-17. As of Thursday morning, with a week left in the month and snow in the forecast, the resort was sitting at 223 inches.

“We really blew it out of the water,” said Sarah Sherman, Sierra’s communications and PR manager, who researched snowfall totals back to when the resort was known as Sierra Ski Ranch.

It’s the same all over the lake.

Squaw Valley and Homewood have received well over 20 feet of snow this month, 21 and 23, respectively. Squaw’s previous record was 196 inches set in 2016-17. Squaw’s 513 inches (about 43 feet) for the season sets the standard for basin resorts.

Heavenly and Kirkwood mountain resorts have each received 20 feet of snow this month. Resort officials did not have numbers for the previous monthly records.

Northstar California’s previous record was 199 inches. The resort, south of Truckee, has shattered that record by 3 feet.

The entire basin sits at about 175 percent of its average snowpack.

Southern Utah boasts a snowpack 156 percent of average while Idaho and Colorado are mostly above average, according to SNOTEL numbers from the Nevada Resources Conservation Service.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday that just over 67 percent of California is totally free of any level of dryness.

Just under 33 percent is classified as abnormally dry, and less than 4 percent remains in either moderate or severe drought.

The drought conditions are confined to a far northern area along the California-Oregon border.

Three months ago, more than three-quarters of the state was in moderate to extreme drought and the remainder was abnormally dry.

More snow is in the forecast through the weekend and through the end of the month.

The weather pattern remains active through early March, according to the National Weather Service.