Old Man Winter wears out welcome
April 10, 2005
You could say there are two prevailing opinions among South Shore residents regarding the topsy-turvy weather patterns that have teased and pummeled the area since October.
There are those like Stateline resident Ed Ferranto who took advantage of the fresh dusting of powder at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Saturday morning, loving every flake that dropped and wished more would come.
“It’s great. I love it,” said Ferranto, who works in the summer as a captain for charter boats on Lake Tahoe. “Not a lot of people on the mountain and the snow was perfect.”
And then there are those like Angelina Carter, who works behind the counter at Hot Gossip coffee shop on Ski Run Boulevard. She’s hearing a lot of buzz about the mounting spring snow and most of it hasn’t been good.
“I’m hearing a lot of people say, ‘enough already,'” she said. “I think maybe one out of 10 people I’ve talked to are happy winter is still here. The rest are like ‘It’s not gonna snow again is it?'”
Whatever the case may be, the reason why this winter seems longer than normal is because it has been longer than normal. At least in recent history. The first storm of the season blew in early, on Oct. 17, dropping about a foot and in some places, 2 feet of snow above 7,000 feet and 6 inches at lake level. But instead of melting off quickly as has usually been the case for fall snowfall, the storm was followed by another one six days later, which brought more snow to lake level where it has stayed since, with each storm building on top of the snowpack.
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“It was a significant winter. We had a lot of snow that has stayed on the ground longer, without the long bands of warm weather to melt it off,” said Rudy Cruz, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Reno.
“After several years of mild winters, where precipitation was near or slightly below normal, we saw long stretches of warm weather in between storms. This year, we haven’t had that,” he said.
What we’re experiencing now is considered normal spring weather, with a mix of wind, rain and snow that is cold enough so snow continues to build on top of the pack, but warm enough during the days to melt, he said.
Most residents are counting down to warm days where they can do what comes naturally at Lake Tahoe between May and October: being outdoors.
Stan Smith, a cashier at Scotty’s Hardware on Kingsbury Grade, said customers appear to be antsy because as winter becomes drawn out, so do their home improvement projects and gardening plans.
“Every time the sun comes out I hear ‘I hope it stays’ and no sooner do people say that than Old Man Winter makes an appearance,” said Smith, an eight-year South Shore resident.
“It is the longest winter in the amount of days and weeks since I’ve lived here,” he said. “We’re tired of shoveling our decks. Now we want to paint them.”
The forecast calls for a new system to move in Tuesday afternoon, a virtual carbon copy of the one that moved into the area on Friday. Expect wind and snow levels at lake level and on the valley floor in Carson City and Reno by Wednesday morning.
Temperatures should warm up by Friday, with highs in the low 60s at lake level, with the National Weather Service expecting yet another storm arriving to the area early next week.