very dry

How Tahoe looks and feels right now. photo:

Tahoe is really not looking good, humans.  It literally hasn’t snowed yet this winter.  I know that we all need to hold onto the hopeful idea that one big storm could change everything, but that one big storm is not on the horizon.  There is nothing in the two week forecast, again.  We are looking at nothing until at least mid-January…or later.  I want to be optimistic, but we have to look at the numbers.

 I called up Randall Osterhuber at the UC Berkeley Snow Lab at 6,900 feet on Donner Summit to find out more.

dry squaw valley

Squaw Valley today, Dec. 28th, 2011


*Note:  A water year  is defined as October 1st – September 30th (Thus, the 2012 water year started on Oct. 1st, 2011).  It is designed this was as California reservoir levels are at their lowest about October 1st each year.

- December 2011 = 2nd driest December on record at 4 cms of snow so far (it doesn’t look like it’ll snow again in Dec) 

- Driest December on record = 1989 at 0 cms of snow (ended up being an Above Average year at 1,150 cms or 453”)

 - 3rd driest December on record = 1976 at 13 cms of snow

- Average December precipitation = 200 mm

- December 2011 precipitation = 2 mm = 1% of average December precip.

- *In general, if we don’t get any snow for a whole month, we will have a below average snowfall for that winter.  Thus, this winter will more than likely be a below average year.

“If we lose a month of precip, we usually are unable to make up that precip and make it to an average winter.  Last year being the exception.” – Randall Osterhuber, Donner Summit Snow Laboratory

snowfall totals at donner summit, ca


Average Snowfall at Donner Snow Lab = 1,100 cms (433”).  Last winter = 1,63o cms (642”) = 4th best winter

#1 – 1977 = 464 cms (182”)

#2 – 1976 = 579 cms (228”)

#3 – 1987 = 597 cms (235”)

#4 – 1988 = 599 cms (236”)

#5 – 1992 = 604 cms (238”)

#6 – 1994 = 632 cms (249”)

“just like this year, a lot of ice skating those years.” – Randall Osterhuber

snow deep

Deep nice


- 1977 was the worst snow year on record at 464 cms (183”) of total snow, a max snow depth of 87 cms (34”)

- 1952 was the best snow year on record at 2,060 cms (811”) of total snow

The bitch is not back...yet


-There is hope and her name is la niña.  Some la niña forecast still have Tahoe getting hammered with snow for the latter half of January, all of February, and all of March.

- This is what we have to hang on for.  In the mean time, you need to take advantage of this dry weather:  backcountry ice-skating, hiking, kayaking the lake, surfing on the coast, mountain biking, enjoying an uncrowded holiday season in Tahoe.

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  1. Jo says:

    guess I gotta get a plane ticket to the N.W.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Imminent. Not Eminent.

  3. B-rad is RAD says:

    I might be responsible… I was born in the worst december on record.. dec 15th 1989 to be exact.. and just moved from The bay area to Squaw Valley this winter and now all of the sudden we get 4cm of snowfall and the second worst december on record. Its All my Fault AHHHHH!!!!!!!! Im Freaking out!!!!

  4. Heckler says:

    Meanwhile, locals leave toxic waste in the forest due to bordem? Ya feel me now?

    • Rat says:

      Your a duche. How about you jump in your car and drive around. Forgot you don’t pollute.

      • Heckler says:

        Sorry rat, a couple DUI’s took care of the car. I ride a bike.

        • Rat says:

          Wow your a looser. Don’t forget your bike was mostlikley made in a Chinese plant that spewes pollutants, your blowen tubes and discarded tires all pollute. The brake fluid in your breakes is extremely toxic, and if you say you ride the bus take a look as it pulls away, pollution.
          I am just telling you that you pollute as much or even more than anybody. If you ride one chair you are responciable for amounts off polution. Your ripping on Ryan is bullshit. Get over your garbage attitude, it will snow sooner or later so quit being a sour duche.

  5. oh em gee says:

    I’m not going to be able to afford any more weed

    • Snowahuakhbar says:

      So glad everyone is following Miles’ lead and spell-checking each other. JK, you missed one: unless you’re a totally oversexed stretched sphincter, I think “looser” is supposed to be “loser”. Yep, pretty sure you’re a loser.

      • JK says:

        That’s rich. Not usally the grammar Nazi, but that was asanine to read Rat’s high school drivel. If you’re going to talk shit try to not sound like an insufferable vagina while doing it. I saw “looser,” but honestly stopped giving a shit, and opted to go ski instead. Thanks for pointing that out though. You’re a gem.

  6. Mark Fisher says:

    1976 and 1977….yup…the years that I learned to love skiing at Mount Bachelor.

  7. Alan McBride says:

    Lucky you have the extra day next year to make up for some of lost time, though I note you have an extra one in September each year as noted above:

    *Note: A water year is defined as October 1st – September 31st

    We only have 30 days in our September;-)

  8. in Boze says:

    How can you all be so darn critical of each other? Gee……lets waste all our time and point out each others faults…..on the internet. Lame.

  9. in Boze says:

    neener neener boo hoo…I like that. Cant even argue with that one.

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