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Storms come just in time for meteorologist conference

It must be true that visitors bring the weather with them.

Forecasters from all across the country were delighted to see the real thing in Lake Tahoe for the eighth annual Meteorologist Conference held Wednesday and Thursday.

The attendance at the conference was lighter the second day because news directors called on their crews to get footage of the sudden winter wonderland at South Shore.



“The great thing is we predicted this – right down to the high winds,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Communications Director John Kermond said.

With Wednesday’s storm, the high-pressure system that brought warmer temperatures to the region broke down, National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Brown reported.




The South Shore received 13 inches of snow, while Stateline scored a foot, the weather service reported.

The dumping of snowfall tickled the ski areas as a long-awaited reprieve from the warm temperatures and lack of new snow to show for their better-than-usual early season.

Smiling skiers lined U.S. Highway 50, waiting to get picked up by shuttle buses Thursday morning, with a stream of cars pouring in and out of the Heavenly gondola parking lot by noon.

Sierra-at-Tahoe, nestled in a bowl 12 miles west of Meyers, had 18 inches of snow during the short winter blast, and just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Kirkwood Mountain Resort was blanketed with 24 to 36 inches of the great white hope.

A school learning the basics of winter survival and snow sampling in an overnight bivouac was caught out in the sudden storm Wednesday outside Tahoe City.

Thirty-five students from as far away as Alaska who work for agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Bureau of Land Management were building shelters to sleep in at the time the blustery winds kicked up that afternoon.

“You use a lot of imagination, but most were done pretty quickly,” said Garry Schaefer, who works for the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. The division of the Agriculture Department has put on the class since 1960.

Students get training in snow sampling, avalanche recognition and outdoor emergency care.

The snow school is part of a cooperative effort to predict water supplies based on snowpack and other hydrometeorologic conditions.

“You never know what to expect, and that’s what we try to get students to understand,” Schaefer said. “It is rare, but occasionally snow samplers get caught in the elements and have to hole in and wait for help. It’s a possibility we must recognize and prepare for.”

And it may not be over.

The NWS forecast calls for snow showers through Friday, with temperatures in the 40s and overnight lows in the teens.

Partly cloudy skies are expected Saturday, until another system blows through the region by that night. Snow flurries are predicted to fall Sunday morning, with a slight clearing that afternoon.


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