In a literal case of feast and famine, January 2022 went into the record books as only the third in 116 years with zero precipitation in Minden.
According to National Weather Service Records kept since 1906, the only other bone-dry Januarys were in 1984 and 1985.
The month was the third driest at Tahoe City, which received .17 inches this month and a half inch of snowfall.
“The east side of the basin down to Mammoth has hardly had any snow or precipitation, but the Snow Lab near Donner Summit has recorded over 1 inch of precipitation and 9 inches of snow during the first week of January,” said Bryan Allegretto, Forecaster, OpenSnow.
Nevada Natural Resources Conservation Service has a grimmer outlook.
“Based on SNOTEL precipitation data for the 11 SNOTEL sites in the Lake Tahoe basin this January ranks as the driest since SNOTEL records began in 1981,” said Jeff Anderson, NCRS Snow Survey. “This assumes we don’t get any precipitation for the rest of the month”
As of Monday, Lake Tahoe was still at 104 percent of median in snow-water equivalent locked in the snowpack. The Carson River Basin is reading 102 percent, as is the Walker River, thanks to the thorough dousing in December.
Forecasters aren’t holding out much hope for more snow during the first week of February.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Dustin Norman said dry and mild weather will persist through at the least the first half of the month.
“So here we are approaching the end of January and it has been a disappointing month as far as precipitation goes (absolutely beautiful weather otherwise),” he said. “Based on the monthly ups and downs, we’d expect February to come out swinging — but unfortunately northing looks noteworthy for the first couple of weeks at least.”
Anderson is not giving up hope for more snow. He pointed out that 1991, which also had a dry January, saw snow later in the season.
“In terms of snowpack (measured by a snow pillow which is different from a precipitation gage) it is interesting that 1991 had a huge miracle March. The Tahoe Basin snowpack went from 18 percent of median on March 1 (lowest March 1 snowpack on record) up to 77 percent of median by April 1,” Anderson said. “On the other hand, 2015 [the driest January on record] ended up with the lowest April 1 snowpack on record at just 9 percent of median.”