Lake Tahoe weather: 50/50 chance for wet winter; October was wettest month |

Lake Tahoe weather: 50/50 chance for wet winter; October was wettest month

Molly Moser
A colorful rainbow shines over Lake Tahoe’s North Shore on Oct. 15 after a rainstorm.
Courtesy / Alyssa Saltigerald |

It’s been fairly rainy the past few weeks, but the month of October was probably the wettest month the Reno-Tahoe region will experience for the rest of the year.

That’s according to Climatologist Dan McEvoy at the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nevada. Although October is known to be the first wetter month of the year in the West, it isn’t going to fully mend the drought.

However, the rain put many positive impacts on the area, McEvoy said.

“The soil is moistening in high elevation before snowfall hits,” he said. “We also had snow accumulation start early in those higher elevations, like at Mt. Rose.”

Another relief McEvoy mentioned is that fire season is over. Although November is normally not a month for fires, the rain in October added plenty of moisture to dry and dead vegetation in the region.

On top of that, more water has been added to the reservoirs, such as Lake Tahoe and in the Great Basin.

McEvoy said last month was at 200 to 300 percent for normal precipitation levels. The storm that occurred the weekend of Oct. 21 dropped 11 billion gallons, roughly 33,660 acre-feet of water — or 3 inches into Lake Tahoe.

“For reference, that’s roughly equivalent to the average total consumptive water use in a year from the Truckee River by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority,” the agency wrote on Facebook.

Despite the much-needed rainfall, the lake’s level still remains more than 2 inches below the natural rim of 6,223 feet. However, the area is pretty lucky compared to those in the southern domain, McEvoy said.

“Regionally, we had a great rainfall,” he said. “But as for Southern Nevada and California, they were dry for an October.”

It’s believed when there’s a wet fall, there’s a wet winter. But McEvoy said don’t keep hopes up, as there could be no relationship between October’s rain and the winter.

“The recent rainfall doesn’t indicate a wet winter,” he said. “It could be dry but that’s up in the air right now.”

In other words, the region is considered to be neutral; there’s no La Niña or El Niño, but there’s an equal chance for a wet or dry winter.

So what to expect heading into Thanksgiving? As far as predictions go, McEvoy said we could see a dry pattern. The winter also might bring a weak La Niña.

“We also could have light precipitation,” he said. “But there’s no chance of a major storm during that timeline.”

It may be awhile until the area experiences similar weather again, but the rain was essential to the region overall.

According to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, October was the second wettest month it’s seen since the early 1900s. As for Lake Tahoe, October ranks as one of the top months in its record as the wettest fall month experienced.

As for the near future, the National Weather Service’s seven-day forecast shows mostly sunny skies for the Tahoe region, with high temperatures in the 60s for South Lake Tahoe, with lows between 37-38 degrees.

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