South Lake Tahoe finally sees snow, rain
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The rain and snow finally came.
Dryness and unprecedented heat were the story of the weather in the South Shore for all of January until Tuesday, but precipitation finally came. Rain and snowfall, however, was limited.
Rain and snow began to fall Tuesday a little after 7 a.m. As of 4 p.m. South Lake Tahoe had experienced 0.1 inches of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. Rain and snow had stopped by 3 p.m.
While the heavens failed to deliver much needed precipitation in a crucial area for the state’s water supply, Sunday’s warm temperatures delivered the warmest day on record in January, according to National Weather Service Data. The temperature Sunday rose to 66 degrees at its highest point.
Meanwhile, the South Shore had seen zero inches of precipitation as of Monday. Though the state has been experiencing drought for the last three years and going on a fourth, January 2015 was shaping to become the driest January in recent years. According to National Weather Service data, there had not been such a prolonged period without precipitation during January since the drought began.
Last year, there had been 0.17 inches of precipitation by Jan. 26, all of which fell on Jan. 11 that year. In total, January 2014 experienced 2.27 inches of precipitation. January 2013 had 0.71 inches of precipitation, with several shallow rains throughout the month. January 2012 yielded even more precipitation with 3.88 inches. Jan. 2011 only had 0.42 inches of precipitation, but it had at least some rain during two days before Jan. 26 that year.
The dry spell this month also encouraged a change of activities and behavior around the city. After weeks of dry weather, the Lake Tahoe Golf Course reopened its driving range on Jan. 20. Perhaps as an act of superstition or of confidence that the effort would be worth it, a noticeable number of people decided to wash their vehicle this month.
The lack of rain and snow has also kept hiking trails clear and given people a chance to perform outdoor activities.
Regarding the abnormally warm weather, in addition to Sunday’s record-breaking temperatures, January has had two additional days that broke the record for highest temperatures for their respective dates, Jan. 18 and Saturday. Saturday’s highest temperature was 60 degrees, while the temperature on Jan. 18 rose as high as 58 degrees.
The lowest temperature for the month came the first day when it dropped to 3 degrees during the end of a cold front that delivered several inches of snow in the area.
The early winter and late fall, however, did not seem to predict another dry winter.
Multiple snowstorms during November and December seemed to signal a better precipitation-yielding winter.
A snow survey on Dec. 30 revealed snow depth of 21.3 inches and 4 inches of water content, roughly 33 percent the long-term average. Those measurements were significantly better than the readings previous years reflected.
Still, experts said the state would need many more storms to mean a significant change to the ongoing drought situation.
With continuing drought conditions, experts fear the state will face difficult water-shortage conditions during the summer.
Last April, Gov. Jerry Brown called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. Many counties around the state suggested their residents to reduce water shortage by limiting the use of water for non-essential functions such as washing their vehicles and watering lawns. The state also passed legislation and made changes to water gathering and distribution approaches since.
For now, forecasters predict Tuesday’s precipitation to be isolated and that dry conditions will return to the area in the coming days.
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