Weather unusually warm, but skies are smokey |

Weather unusually warm, but skies are smokey

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

An unusual warm weather streak over the weekend — including one day that broke a record — prompted sun and sand worshipers alike to head to the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Beachgoers dotted the sand from the Beacon Restaurant to Baldwin Beach, with many people strolling out into the chilly Tahoe water.

The mercury hit 82 Friday, breaking the 77-degree mark set back in 1942, the National Weather Service in Reno reported Sunday. The latter temperature was reached Thursday, tying the record from a dozen years ago.

Those with respiratory conditions, however, may have experienced a cost in venturing out to enjoy the warm autumn air. Heavy smoke from forest fires in the Sierra have put a haze on what otherwise would have been clear blue sky.

Barton Memorial Hospital respiratory therapist Lydia Bilbrey urged those with related health conditions to stay indoors and limit their exercise. The best time to exert oneself is the early morning. The hospital reported no one coming to the South Shore facility complaining of respiratory problems.

Stagnant air here and two wildfires burning more than 8,300 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest between the basin and Yosemite National Park produced the hazy conditions that laid an uncharacteristic smoggy band over Hope Valley Sunday.

Fire officials said the basin could be also getting residual smoke from a 6,800-acre wildfire burning in Yosemite.

The collective haze has traveled into the basin and settled.

“(The smoke) has had no place to go,” Weather Service meteorologist Mark Brown said.

Brown reported wind speeds at the lake averaging between 5 to 8 mph — about half the speed of normal gusts.

Humidity was measured as low as 12 percent, with temperature variations that have swung between 35 degrees for lows and 80 degree highs.

“It’s drier than it should be,” Brown said.

The basin has received no precipitation in September. Normal moisture is .63 inches, with a trace of snow often falling sometime in the month.

The forecast calls for a cooling trend into next week, with highs dipping into the mid- to low 70s.

Kit Bailey, fire management officer for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said fire season ends when 3 inches of rain falls. The U.S. Forest Service usually sets the date in November.

Local fire units have kept a close eye on fire threats.

“This is the most dangerous time for wildfires,” Lake Valley firefighter Brad Zlendick said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at 530-542-8009 or via e-mail at

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