Mild temperatures descend on region |

Mild temperatures descend on region

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Expect partly cloudy weather in the upper 70s this Labor Day weekend, with a slight chance of thundershowers Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

“It’s the last weekend of the summer and overall the weather should be pretty good,” said Mark Deutschendorf, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Reno. “The temperatures will be pretty close to what’s expected this time of year.”

The summer has been hotter than normal, with highs hitting 99 degrees, because of a large ridge of high pressure posted off the coast of California since July. But a weak trough is moving along the West Coast and should start bringing temperatures down, Deutschendorf said.

Heat at Tahoe, which arrives in late June and starts to fade by the end of August, occurs in part because the sun beams straight down for longer periods of time.

Temperatures begin to get chilly between mid-September and mid-October as shorter days, made even shorter because Tahoe is in a basin surrounded by mountains, allow the jet stream to drop down from its summer home in the Arctic.

With the jet stream come storms.

“They come down from the north and pick up more energy farther south and track farther south,” Deutschendorf said.

The National Weather Service at Reno measures weather in the basin by collecting data at Lake Tahoe Airport and Tahoe City. Lake Tahoe Community College also collects weather data at its campus.

Betsy Julian, an earth science instructor at LTCC, said the college has collected weather data since 1998. Armed with all that information, she and her students have only been able to predict two things: weather at Tahoe is unpredictable and the West Shore gets a lot more precipitation than the East Shore.

“The only month that’s predictable is July and January,” Julian said. “July is hot and January is cold. That sounds facetious, but it’s the only thing you can say with certainty.”

Data collected during the month of September from 1998 to 2000 has been anything but consistent.

In 1998, the month started with highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s. But by the end of the month, the highs had dropped to the 60s with lows in the mid-30s.

The following September, the first week was colder but the rest of the month scored highs in the mid- to upper-70s and lows in the mid-30s.

It was a strange year in 2000, Julian said. “It started very cold with high temperatures in the low 50s but then it warmed to mid-80s but then plunged again to the low-60s by the third week. Go figure that one out.”

As for the reason the East Shore is much drier than the West, it’s obvious, Julian said.

“It’s because the weather comes up over the mountains from the West most of the time,” she said. “There’s barely enough energy for it to ooze over the mountains and (it) dies out before it gets to Nevada.”

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

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