Storm this week could be one for the record books | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Storm this week could be one for the record books

Jeff Munson

In weather circles, forecasting can be a crap shoot, especially when one looks to the Central Sierra. Rarely do you hear someone from the National Weather Service say a storm is a “sure thing,” let alone in gaming-speak would you ever hear “bet the ranch.”

But what can only be called an anomaly occurred Sunday when a couple of seasoned Reno-based meteorologists were interviewed. They not only said there are three storms cooking in the central Pacific that will punch Lake Tahoe in the chops, but these storms ” which should last from Thursday to Sunday ” will bring snow not in mere inches, but in feet.

“Right now, we’re not able to say how much to expect, exactly, but we’re sure that it will be measured in feet, not inches,” said forecaster Alex Hoon.

“How many feet are possible?” the Tahoe Daily Tribune wanted to know.

“At a minimum, 3. All the way to about 10 feet. We’re certain that it will be the largest snow of the season, and definitely bigger than any storm last year and could rival storms over the last 50 years,” Hoon said.

Minimum 3 feet? Possibly 10 feet? Certain to be the largest of the season? Possibly rival storms of the past 50 years?

These are bold statements, to quote a famous line from the movie “Pulp Fiction.”

To clarify some, Hoon explained the lake level could get at least 3 to 4 feet, with 5 to 10 feet above 7,000 feet if the storm pans out to what all weather models now show.

As an upper Kingsbury Grade resident, I shudder. I have 52 steps to clear. Ten feet may be heaven for some, but certainly not on my stairway.

As Hoon explains: The storm is unique because it is setting itself off the Central Pacific with the possibility of a so-called “Pineapple Express.” This weather phenomenon is when Sierra storms become rain instead of snow because the moisture that feeds them is from the warm subtropics.

But this storm, though it will come in a more central rather than northerly flow, will have north cold air behind it, Hoon said.

The weather service is so certain this thing will pack a wallop that it released a special weather statement, something it doesn’t usually do four days in advance of a storm. In part, it says this:

“A snowstorm of potentially historic proportions will affect the Sierra Nevada during the upcoming weekend. Snowfall totals with this snowstorm could rival snowfall amounts that were seen in some of the most devastating snowstorms of the past 50 years.”

Former Weather Service co-op observer and Tribune forecaster Simon Smith, who now lives in Idaho, chimed in on the coming storm by e-mail. Smith advises locals to “think about loading up on groceries and gas, as there is the potential to be snowed in for a few days.”

A few days? Now that’s serious.

While some South Tahoe locals enjoy the blood sport of blaming messengers rather than Mother Nature herself, the truly wise Tahoan will no doubt handle this potentially historic storm with sure-fire grace, whatever the numbers indeed turn out to be.

So hang tough. Be cool. As the good-natured locals like to say here: No worries. Itsallgood.

” Jeff Munson is online editor for the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


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