Storm hammers Lake Tahoe with several feet of wet snow
TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Winter returned to the Sierra with a wet twist over the weekend, dumping several feet of snow in higher elevations and bringing plenty of rain at lake level.
On Monday morning, Kirkwood Mountain Resort south of Lake Tahoe reported a whopping 82 inches of new snow at upper mountain (nearly 7 feet) from the storm that began Thursday throughout the greater Truckee/Tahoe region.
On the North Shore, Squaw Valley reported a storm total of 68 inches on its upper mountain, while Sugar Bowl and Alpine Meadows both reported storm totals of 61 inches.
“The new snow was just what we needed to really get winter going here at Squaw and Alpine,” said Mike Livak, executive vice president for Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, in a statement. “Thanks to the storm, we are now able to open new lifts so that our guests can truly experience the diverse terrain that these two mountains have to offer.”
Here’s a look at some storm totals, according to Tahoe area ski resorts Monday morning*:
Alpine Meadows: 61 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Squaw Valley: 68 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Heavenly: 34 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Homewood: 52 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Kirkwood: 82 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Northstar: 44 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Sugar Bowl: 61 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
Diamond Peak: 48 inches of new snow at upper mountain.
According to the National Weather Service in Reno, as much as 2 to 3 feet of snow fell between 7,000 feet and 8,000 feet, while lake level areas received up to 6 inches — and plenty of rain.
According to reports, the northeastern side of Lake Tahoe, near Incline Village and along Nevada 28, saw up to 3 inches of rain over the weekend, while Carson City received 2 inches near its western foothills.
The weather caused an hours-long power outage for much of Incline and Kings Beach Saturday night into early Sunday, according to Liberty Utilities, due to a failure at the Brockway Substation that reportedly even had the casinos at north state line operating on generators.
Skies should be clear for Presidents Day weekend, which typically is the last big holiday weekend for Tahoe resorts. Temperatures should be in the mid-50s by the weekend, according to NWS.
The storm comes amid the current drought in California, declared recently after consecutive drier-than-average winters, and on the heels of 2013 being the driest ever in the Sierra, according to previous reports.
In the Sierra Foothills, NWS reported more than 10 inches of rain had fallen at the Nevada County Air Park from Wednesday through Sunday, according to the Sun’s sister paper, The Union in Grass Valley, with 5.9 inches falling Saturday and Sunday.
Still, while a welcome sight, several more storms need to soon line up behind the one that washed through the western county this weekend to even reach normal precipitation levels, let alone approach making up the drought deficit, said Stefanie Henry, a forecaster with the weather service in Sacramento.
“Several more (storms) would have to bring us way above normal precipitation to bring us up to normal,” Henry said. “But this is the most significant rainfall event we’ve seen this season.”
*Accumulation statistics are according to resorts’ online snow reports; some vary from 48-hour totals vs. overall storm totals.