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November storms bypass Tahoe

Patrick McCartney

At noon Monday, a thin dusting of snow persisted in the shadow of the Port of Subs in South Lake Tahoe, the sole reminder of a weekend siege of storms.

“People are coming from all over to see our snow,” quipped Glenn Luecke, the sandwich shop’s assistant manager.

California’s coastline was pummeled all week by storms sweeping in off the Pacific, but the weather at Lake Tahoe remained mostly dry. By Monday morning, the Lake Tahoe Airport had received just a trace of snow for the weekend, although weather forecasters had expected as much as 6 inches of snowfall.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get as much snow as they forecasted,” said Monica Bandows, public relations manager for Heavenly Ski Resort. “But we’ve been making snow.”

Bandows said the resort hopes to open this weekend.

While ski resort operators are keeping their fingers crossed that storms forecast this week will pack more punch, the basin’s first taste of this year’s El Nino is threatening to become a joke.

“It’s crazy this year,” Luecke said.

Yet, if forecasters are right, Lake Tahoe may finally cash in on the onslaught of storms by next week, when the jet stream finally gets organized.

Before then, smaller storms are expected to arrive tonight and again on Saturday. Tonight and Wednesday, the basin could receive a quarter-inch or more of precipitation, but the snow level will remain above 7,000 feet overnight, lowering to lake level by Wednesday afternoon.

A second storm is expected to arrive by Saturday afternoon, said Tom Cylke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

“That one seems to have a little more zip,” Cylke said of the weekend storm, which should also be cool enough to bring snow to the basin.

Anything would be better than last week’s intermittent storms, which drenched California’s coastline, but made a detour around Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe Airport recorded just .05 inches of precipitation so far in November, while Sacramento and San Francisco have received more than 2 inches each, Los Angeles 0.93 and even Reno 0.47 inches.

For the season that started July 1, Lake Tahoe Airport has received 2.95 inches, Sacramento 3.47, San Francisco 3.74 and Reno 1.22.

Lake Tahoe may make up for lost ground next week, however, when the split jet stream that has weakened the Pacific storms becomes more organized, Cylke said.

“Conditions will become more favorable with a series of frontal systems,” Cylke said. “The southern jet stream will strengthen, and we could start picking up some significant precipitation.”


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