Storms could push Lake Tahoe snowpack 3-4 months ahead of 2017-18 levels

Kirkwood Mountain Resort recorded 11 inches of snow overnight Wednesday.
Provided / Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Cold storms are delivering and putting the Tahoe Basin slightly ahead of the precipitation pace of last year.

However, with more storms in the forecast, the snowpack in Lake Tahoe could jump about three to four months ahead of where it was a season ago.

The basin received November storms last year, but they were warm in nature and snow levels remained high, around 8,000 feet.

The mountaintops were covered in white but the basin received rain — until Miracle March.

“Mother Nature has been delivering the goods this past week. We are excited to have a snowy start to the season and look forward to seeing everyone on the mountain this Friday.”— John Rice,General ManagerSierra-at-Tahoe

“Last year we did have a big storm, but at a higher elevation,” said Jeff Anderson of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Reno, who measures the snowpack. “Mount Rose got about 40 inches of snow last year right before Thanksgiving and that was some of the best skiing of the season. But after that, there were just marginal storms, nothing significant until March.”

The snowpack as of midnight heading into Thursday was at 124 percent of median, Anderson said, adding that the median amounts are so low right now that any storm can dramatically change that reading.

The measurements are recorded on a 24-hour schedule that resets at midnight.

Heavy snow is expected to return Friday night. An additional 6-12 inches of new snow could accumulate by Saturday.

Sierra-at-Tahoe announced earlier in the week that it will open Friday, Nov. 30, for the 2018-19 season, a few days earlier than last year, and with a lot more snow after Thursday’s dump.

Sierra received 10 inches Wednesday into Thursday and had accumulated 19 inches over the last three days.

The South Shore resort plans to fire up three lifts and one surface lift. The resort is asking guests to obey signs for their own safety during early season conditions.

General Manager John Rice credited the recent weather for helping prepare Sierra for the season.

Several feet of snow are expected to have accumulated in the high country by the time Sierra opens.

“Mother Nature has been delivering the goods this past week,” Rice said in Tuesday’s announcement. “We are excited to have a snowy start to the season and look forward to seeing everyone on the mountain this Friday.”

Sierra is scheduled to spin Grandview Express, Nob Hill and Easy Rider Express, as well as Magic Carpet. Sierra Snowsports School will be offering adult and children’s lessons, and snowplay at Blizzard Mountain will be open.

The first hundred chairs on Grandview Express will be treated to a cup of Drink Coffee Do Stuff coffee and KIND Snacks. Guests, of legal drinking age, are invited to Solstice Plaza at noon to sample local brews from Sierra while kicking off the season with a toast.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort announced it is opening for the season on Thursday, Dec. 13. The North Shore resort has about a foot of snow at the base according to its website Thursday afternoon.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe was the first to open in late October. The resort is reporting a 26-inch base and received nearly a fresh foot Wednesday into Thursday.

Heavenly and Kirkwood mountain resorts opened in mid and late November, respectively.

Kirkwood has been the big winner thus far in the snowstorm lottery with a foot Wednesday into Thursday and webcams showed the resort being buried in fresh powder Thursday afternoon.

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