Tahoe Finally Picked Up More Snow, What's Next?

Tahoe Finally Picked Up More Snow, What's Next?


Tahoe Finally Picked Up More Snow, What's Next?


It had been over 2 weeks since last appreciable snow fell in Tahoe before last night’s storm rolled in.  The storm was expected to drop several inhces up to a foot on the mountains and that is what it did.  As of 6 a.m. this morning reports from the resorts on the West side of the lake were anywhere from 6-12 inches.  Scattered snow showers have continued today especially South end of the lake, but most of this quick hitting storm has now pushed through.

Where does that put us now for the season?  Not much ahead of where we were.  In Tahoe we measure in feet and this storm mostly came in inches so it would be considered weak by Tahoe standards.  The only resort officially reporting over 100 inches for the season so far is Sugar Bowl which is usually the first or second resort to do so each season.  But not in February, usually in December or January at the latest.  Last season it happened all at once the week before Thanksgiving.

Here is the updated snopack chart for the Tahoe Basin.  Good news, if you would call it that, is that we are still ahead of the 1976/77 season which was the least amount of snow on record.

With all the records and history of snow in Tahoe there is still no way to know for sure how much snow will fall in a season.  76-77 was a weak El Nino season and we didn’t even hit 200 inches on Donner Summit.  The following season was a weak El Nino season as well and we picked up almost 500 inches.  This year the La Nina never reached the strength it was forecasted to and no where near last seasons strength.  It’s only really in the strong La Nina or El Nino years that there is a solid lean towards more above average than below average years.

I went back over 60 years and couldn’t find a weak La Nina like this years where we had average or above average snowfall.  You also have to go back to the 1800’s to find three seasons in a row of 500+ inch snowfall which is what would have had after hitting that the last 2 seasons.  So before we even add in all of the bad luck we have had with the oscillations and weather pattern not lining up in our favor so far this season, we had history against us.

There is still plenty of Winter left though.  We get big snows in Tahoe November-April so we are just over the halfway point with about 2 1/2 months left.  Some years like last year it doesn’t stop until June.  The ski resort seasons fore resorts like Squaw are just now hitting their halfway point with closing dates normally in mid-May.  Will we have a lot more snow the second half of the season?  We’ll see but it would would be hard for it to be worse than the first half.

We had a snowy start today and more is in the forecast although nothing big yet.  The next storm for Wednesday still looks like it could bring a few inches as well as another shot of cold air.  Another storm will come all the way down the West Coast and inland over Northern CA over the weekend.  The models are coming into better agreement that this storm could be a weak-moderate storm producing several inches of snow.  It may be similar to last nights storm.  Here is the postion of the storm for Sunday off the GFS forecast model.

Next week it looks like we could have another break in the action as the ridge shifts closer to the West coast again keeping the storms to our North. The unreliable long-range forecast models continue to show a stormy pattern developing for the end of the month and into March. Take that with a grain of salt but let’s hope we can get something going here. Even in a dry year we pick up a lot more snow and we need at least 100 more inches to beat out 76-77. And the bonus with March and April snows is they come without the crowds. BA

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