Words and Photos By Dr. Grant Kaye
This winter has been one for the record books. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I was finally able to see out of my living room windows – at my house at 6,000 feet, in Truckee. In what is typically reserved for the stout hearted residents of Donner Summit and Alpine Meadows, driveways, cars, and entire houses have been completely buried all over Lake Tahoe, even at lower elevations that typically only see a few feet of snow pile up.
We’ve even had to revoke our dog’s backyard privileges, because even as of the halfway point in April, there settled snow levels in our yard are still about five feet in total, making our fences an irrelevant deterrent to his neighborhood hounding activities.
In this epicest of epic winters, the use of hyperbolic terms to describe the amount of snowfall have become commonplace. First they called it “Januburied,” and then “Februburied.” Some called it “Snowmageddon.” Whatever the name for it – one thing is for sure. It started snowing around Christmas, and it just hasn’t stopped. By the end of February, we already had more than 10 “atmospheric rivers,” or storms with a deep subtropical moisture plume tapped right from the Pacific Ocean and pointed right at the Tahoe Sierra like a firehose of snow. California averages 5-7 per year. 24-hour snow totals of 29”, 31” and even 37” pepper the logs at our local ski areas.
With Squaw reporting 686” total snowfall at High Camp (8,200’ elevation), and nearly the same amount of snow at it’s base (410” at 6,200’) as it gets on average at the upper elevations ALL YEAR, and it’s only halfway through April so who knows what’s next. Sugar Bowl on Donner Summit already broke 700” and it on track to hit 800+” if April doesn’t disappoint.
Even if it has been “Snowmageddon” to our snowplow drivers, to us skiers in Tahoe, it’s been the best winter of our lives – a relentless parade of epic dumps, bottomless pow turns, and non-stop shovelling. One thing is for sure – the next time I see my plow guy – I’m giving him a sixer of his choice.