Tahoe winter storm to bring significant snow Sunday night
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Weekend warriors may have reaped the benefits of last week’s storm, but this weekend’s weather system is starting to look like it’s more likely to payoff for any skier ready to call in sick Monday.
The storm front initially predicted to deliver significant snow to the Lake Tahoe Basin Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, appears to have split — favoring areas further north.
“It looked like we could see another 3 to 5 feet,” Opensnow.com forecaster Bryan Allegretto said. “But that was seven days out.”
Up to 3 feet of new snow could still come through the weekend at higher elevations, with the most significant snow totals expected Sunday night, March 13, and into Monday, March 14.
“The (storm) on Sunday is going to hit, hopefully,” Allegretto said, predicting 70-80 percent to come Sunday night.
The continued snowfall remains a welcome change following a below average February. But with much of the precipitation falling as rain, the snowpack has failed to fully recover thus far.
“For the Tahoe region in general, it was a good shot in the arm,” California Department of Water Resources Snow Surveys Chief David Rizzardo said, describing 6.9 inches of precipitation since March 1.
“It didn’t really build a ton of snow,” he said. “It wasn’t a big snow builder, it was a big rain deliverer.”
Snowpack water equivalents only rose to 86 percent of the year-to-date average for the Central Sierra and 84 percent for the Northern Sierra, according to DWR monitoring stations.
“It does help the overall picture in terms of water in California,” Rizzardo said. “We would just like to see more snow out of it.”
The Tahoe Basin’s snowpack remains stronger than the greater northern and central Sierra averages, according to National Weather Service Reno Senior Hydrologist Tim Bardsley. He said the average snowpack is closer to 94 percent around Tahoe, thanks to storms in early March.
“March is off to a great start,” he explained, adding that area measuring stations have already recorded close to 200 percent of the month-to-date precipitation and 67 percent of the March average with additional storms on the way.
Speaking to this weekend’s storm, Rizzardo added, “It’s almost a carbon copy of what we saw last week. It’s going to be another big boost, whether it’s rain or snow.”
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Update 9:15 a.m. — Power has been restored to about 3,700 customers, according to the Liberty Utilities outage map.