Kurt Hildebrand

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December 27, 2012
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Carson Valley sees white Christmas

It took its time, but 3 inches of snow fell in Minden overnight on Tuesday, technically returning a white Christmas to Carson Valley after last year's brown spell.

Minden weather watcher Stan Kapler reported that since the water year began on Oct. 1, he's received 8 inches of snow, for a total of 4.26 inches of precipitation.

The snow total for Tuesday night exceeded that of the snowfall during all of 2011-2012 of 2.35 inches. Minden's total moisture for last year was 4.03 inches, Kapler said.

Heavenly Mountain Resort opened all the gates after the storm brought 17 inches of new snow as of Thursday morning, bringing a season total of 198 inches.

Kirkwood Resort reported a storm total of 88 inches at the summit.

Natural Resource Conservation Service snow telemetry reported Ebbetts Pass at the headwaters of the Carson River received 31 inches of snow since Dec. 23, bringing the total depth to 71 inches. Carson Pass reported 81 inches of snow, with 29 inches falling since Saturday.

As of Thursday morning, the service reported that the Carson River basin was at twice normal snow water equivalent. Lake Tahoe is at 173 percent for the year, and Walker River basin is at 223 percent for the year.

The heavy snow has increased avalanche danger, which caused two deaths in the Sierra so far this week.

The Sierra Avalanche Center reported the danger of setting up a slide was moderate on Thursday, an improvement over previous days.

Mono County Public Information Officer Jennifer Hansen said the snow dropped by the last storms produced more than an inch an hour in the backcountry.

"The early season snowfall has crystallized and formed an extremely smooth base for the snow to rest upon," she said. "The recent heavy snowfall, high winds coupled with a smooth hard back base has significantly increased the avalanche danger in the backcountry areas of Mono County."

She advised travelers to avoid the backcountry until the snowpack has settled and solidified. Those who do should carry an avalanche beacon, and tell someone where they're going and what time they expect to return. A legible note left on the dashboard of a vehicle can help searchers find lost skiers and snowshoers.

Passes over the mountains have been closed for more than a week. Ebbetts Pass closed for the winter on Dec. 17. Monitor Pass closed on Dec. 18, and both Sonora and Tioga passes closed on Dec. 19, according to the California Department of Transportation.

Snow returns to the forecast tonight after a short break. The National Weather Service is predicting snow showers tonight and Saturday, but with little or no accumulation in the Valley.

The forecast for New Year's Eve is for clear and cold with a low temperature of around 15 degrees.

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The Record Courier Updated Dec 27, 2012 08:47PM Published Dec 27, 2012 08:43PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.