Mini-storm dumps on Mt. Rose |

Mini-storm dumps on Mt. Rose

Patrick McCartney

Now that most Tahoe residents are prepared for a big winter, some are beginning to wonder when it will arrive.

South Lake Tahoe remained dry Tuesday night, even as a miniature snowstorm clobbered the east slope of the Carson Range, depositing a foot of snow on Mount Rose and a half-foot on Incline Village.

By contrast, South Lake Tahoe received a trace of mixed rain and snow flurries by 9 a.m. Wednesday, said Mindy Johnke of Oasis Aviation, which measures precipitation for the National Weather Service.

“I’m really depressed,” Johnke joked. “We like to have a snowpack because that brings the skiers through the airport for a day of skiing. And, personally, I spent all summer preparing for a big winter, even putting in a new fireplace insert.”

Two more storms are expected to sweep across the Tahoe Basin today and Sunday, but neither should bring a major snowfall, said Tom Cylke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

“You could get either rain or snow at the lake, possibly 1 to 3 inches at the higher elevations,” Cylke said.

He attributed the overnight snowstorm Tuesday to “a classic upslope pattern,” where moist winds from the east were lifted by the Carson Range. The small-scale storm covered an area of about 30 miles, from Reno to Carson City.

In the basin, snow fell from Incline Village as far south as Zephyr Cove, while the basin’s west and south shores remained dry.

A foot of snow on the upper elevations of Mt. Rose raised the hopes of officials at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (formerly Mt. Rose Ski Area), said Mike Pierce, the resort’s marketing director.

“We had the cats out today pushing all the snow around,” Pierce said. “Another 10-inch storm and there’s a good chance we’ll open this weekend.”

But if the first two storms of the week are any indication, Mount Rose might have to wait.

Cylke said the split jet stream that resulted in heavier rain along the coast than inland is characteristic of an El Nino condition.

“With a split jet stream, the frontal band splits; as it stretches out it becomes skinnier and we lose some of our storm dynamic,” Cylke said. “It’s characteristic of an El Nino condition. A strong jet stream splits, with part of it carrying storms into Southern California and part of it going into Canada.”

But Cylke said jet stream patterns tend to change about every 21 days, so the weather pattern could shift again before the brunt of the winter season is upon us.

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