Winter season among biggest ever so far for Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Lake Tahoe is in the midst of one of its snowiest seasons ever.
We dug out from the multi-day blizzard from earlier this week that dropped more than 10 feet of snow, and, after a two-day sunny break, another storm has entered the region that is again expected to blanket Tahoe in more feet of snow.
Bryan Allegretto has been forecasting Tahoe weather for the past 14 seasons and said it has been far more active than he’s ever seen it.
“We just got incredible amounts of snow in February,” said Allegretto, co-owner of Open Snow. He added that out of the Tahoe ski resorts, Palisades Tahoe and Boreal reported the most snow this week, just over 12 feet of snow in eight days.
On average, Allegretto said Tahoe receives an average between 420 and 466 inches of snow each year. So far this year Palisades has blown past that mark with more than 500 inches (501). Kirkwood Mountain Resort has recorded 526 inches. Heavenly Mountain Resort has recorded 454 inches.
“Last time we had this many months with above average snow was the winter of ‘82/’83,” Allegretto said and added this year is also the coldest period since 1952.
The University of California, Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Laboratory near Donner Pass reported that nearly 41.7 feet, more than 500 inches, has fallen since October, the beginning of the season, more than in any snow year since 1970 and second only to the record of 66.7 feet in 1952, according to the Associated Press.
The Sierra snowpack provides about a third of the state’s water supply and the most recent snowpack survey conducted by the California Department of Water Resources on Friday, March 3, at Phillips Station along U.S. Highway 50, showed a snow depth of 116.5 inches, and a snow water equivalent of 41.5 inches, which is 177% of average for the location.
DWR’s electronic readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicate the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 44.7 inches, or 190% of average for the date.
For this winter, Allegretto said, “We are pacing at the highest rate since ‘52. If it kept going at this rate it would be second place overall for the year (behind 1952).”
The snowpack is set to grow this weekend as another potent storm will impact the region.
The National Weather Service in Reno issued a winter storm warning that goes into effect at 10 a.m. Saturday and lasts for 48 hours for total snow accumulations of 1 to 2 feet in lake communities and 2 to 4 feet above 7,000 feet. Winds could gusts up to 45 mph, with 100 mph gusts possible along the Sierra crest.
The snow is expected to bring widespread travel impacts, including possible road closures.
The service said by early Saturday morning, the leading edge of snow will steadily increase in intensity first across northeast California and then spread moderate to heavy snow across the Sierra Saturday afternoon and evening. There is a 70-80% chance for 2 to 4 feet above 7,000 feet.
Western Nevada valleys may receive an additional 3 inches and the surrounding foothill areas may get 5 inches.
If traveling in the mountains, have an emergency kit that includes tire chains, extra food and water and clothing and be prepared to spend an extended amount of time in the vehicle.
“Once the storm arrives, travel may be difficult or impossible for an extended period of time,” the service said. For road conditions, call 511 or go online to https://www.nvroads.com or https://quickmap.dot.ca.gov.
Ashleigh Goodwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill Rozak can be reached at email@example.com.
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