Editor’s Notes: Tahoe Daily Tribune’s top 12 most read stories of 2017 (opinion)
December 31, 2017
Journalists, at least the good ones, are an inquisitive group of people. That innate curiosity drives the work we do — we want to know what's going at our local governing institutions, what new businesses are opening their doors, and we want to know more about the people who make our community a great place.
Equally interesting are the habits of you, the reader. It is what makes the admittedly tedious task of digging through analytics and archives more fun than it might seem.
As someone who watches numbers fairly closely, I'm not too surprised by our list of the 12 most read stories of 2017. Weather stories in particular have caused spikes in our online traffic, and with the near-record winter of 2017, there were plenty of stories.
And there were many more stories that had nothing to do with weather and the rising lake level. My personal favorite from the past year (and one that narrowly missed being the most read story in August despite being posted online at the very end of the month) was the story on Martin Hollay, who skied 100 days the previous winter at the age of 96. If you haven't read the story and viewed the video that accompanied it, I would encourage you to do so.
For background, the following stories were compiled by looking at each individual month. Generally, the story with the most page views (the number of times users viewed a particular page) was selected as the most read story.
I did, however, exercise some judgement. For example, obituaries were not included. As was the case in October, the top read story in terms of page views was the obituary for Emily Lauren Torney.
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Torney, who was born July 27, 1984, in South Lake Tahoe to Phill and Sue Torney, was said to be in love with the mountains and the high-country lifestyle.
One interesting caveat, the top read story selected for September was actually the second most read. For reasons that remain a mystery, the top read story for that month detailed the first snow of the 2016-17 season. Despite the fact that the story's headline contained "2016-17" it still took off on social media and garnered more than 20,000 page views that month. To this day, I have no idea how or why that happened.
Those irregularities aside, here are the 12 most read stories of 2017 broken down by month:
The new year got off to a strong start as it relates to snow. A winter storm earlier in the week delivered multiple feet of snow, bolstering snowpack levels and pleasing ski resorts in the Sierra Range, while also posing problems on the roadways and elsewhere — issues that could become exacerbated as another storm rolls into the region this weekend.
"In terms of building a snowpack at all elevations, this is the sort of storm we always hope for," said Jeff Anderson, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Reno.
In less than five months, the water level at Lake Tahoe has gone from just below its natural rim to within less than 3 feet of the legal limit.
Put another way, approximately 138.65 billion gallons of water have been added to the lake since Oct. 1, according to the National Weather Service. And put yet another way, the amount of water since Oct. 1 is enough to supply the average annual water consumption for 425,506 four-member households.
With bear activity already occurring around the Tahoe Basin and this week being the first official week of spring, more wildlife will be emerging as warmer weather becomes more frequent. Knowing how to act around bears and understanding their behavior is essential for life in the mountains.
This year, bear activity appears to have increased for an unknown reason — even with a snowy winter, which usually translates to less activity. According to Ann Bryant, executive director of Bear League, many bears didn't hibernate at all this winter.
Lake Tahoe is full. As of Thursday, April 20, the lake's surface elevation was 6,227.69 feet — almost 5 feet above its natural rim.
U.S. Water Master Chad Blanchard said his office has been spilling water from Lake Tahoe since Feb. 22 in an effort to prevent the lake's level from rising too high. It's the first time since 2006 that excess water has been spilled from the lake.
A 50-by-25-foot floating sculpture digitally depicting data on the climate-related threats to Lake Tahoe will be docked off two beaches this August — a titanic sign that the art scene on the South Shore is gaining momentum.
Entitled LAKA LELUP, the temporary exhibit is the brainchild of Mia Hanak, executive director of the nonprofit Tahoe Public Art (TPA).
"The goal with Tahoe Public Art is to enhance the cultural landscape of Tahoe by doing these installations that are inspired by the Lake Tahoe Basin and designed to help promote environmental preservation efforts around the lake," said Hanak.
Three weeks ago, South Lake Tahoe resident Elys Clark almost drowned in the Upper Truckee River. Two weeks later, a Minden woman died after falling from her paddleboard in the river — and Clark decided it was time to speak up.
"My partner and I were both wearing life vests or I wouldn't be telling this," Clark wrote in a harrowing Reddit post where she recounted her near-death experience. "I experienced what (I learned later) is called Cold Water Shock. BAM — excruciating, stabbing, full body pain and immediate, involuntary gasping for air that drew in water, as my head kept going under because of the suction vortex that seemed to have formed at depth around the debris."
Less than a week after the reported sale of an estate for $31.1 million set a record in Incline Village, another estate on the cliffs of Lake Tahoe's North Shore has hit the market for $75 million.
That number makes the home — named Crystal Pointe — the highest price listing at Lake Tahoe, according to Chase International, the real estate firm representing the property.
Television stars Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez were spotted at local "escape room" business Trapped in Tahoe multiple times this past week, and it's no coincidence the actors were in South Lake Tahoe at the same time.
ABC's Emmy Award-winning television show "Modern Family" got a taste of Tahoe from Tuesday, Aug. 22, through Friday, Aug. 25: The cast and crew shot the entirety of the season nine premiere on the basin's South Shore.
There is still one more day of summer, but you might not know it by looking up at the mountains surrounding Tahoe.
The sun came up Thursday morning to reveal a light dusting on Mount Tallac and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada. For more than a week, the forecast from the National Weather Service in Reno has predicted end-of-the-week snow in some areas of the Sierra Nevada.
SKI magazine released its annual "Best in the West 2018" reader-ranked survey in late September and zero Lake Tahoe-area resorts appear in the top 15 and just three made the top 30.
But it's better to be on the list than not.
There are four California resorts on the list, published Sept. 19, with Mammoth Mountain ranking highest at No. 18, Northstar California Resort checked in at No. 27, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows was 28th and Heavenly Mountain Resort rounded out the list at No. 30.
An early winter storm has dumped more than 2 feet of snow on the mountains around Lake Tahoe and several inches of rain in the valleys on both sides of the Sierra.
The National Weather Service reports 26 inches of snow has fallen on the top of the Mount Rose ski resort since Wednesday afternoon. The heavy snow in the mountains triggered power outages and school delays on the North Shore.
The Tahoe Basin and Sierra Nevada can expect snow and strong winds in the middle of the week when a strong storm will sweep across the region.
A "very strong" cold front will move through the region starting Tuesday night and into Wednesday, according to a special weather statement from the National Weather Service in Reno. Likely impacts from the storm include: potentially damaging winds and widespread snow, followed by very cold temperatures.
Ryan Hoffman is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at 530-542-8006 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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