Another 1-2 feet of snow forecast for Lake Tahoe
March 3, 2017
Though South Shore residents have been enjoying a stretch of bluebird skies, a storm is scheduled to hit this weekend to kick off what could be another wet winter month ahead.
"We are looking for a storm to come in around Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. It's a pretty decent cold storm. We are expecting 1 to 2 feet of snow above 7,000 feet with potentially up to 10 to 18 inches below that," said Zach Tolby, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Reno.
Temperatures on Saturday will range from 27 to 42 degrees, and drop further on Sunday to between 16 and 32 degrees.
In Carson Valley, the storm will arrive on Saturday night with high winds and a chance of snow. The forecast is calling for 20-25 mph winds with 45 mph gusts starting 10 a.m. Saturday. There's also a chance of 2-4 inches of snow starting early Sunday morning.
"After the storm goes past this weekend, we will get some dry weather probably most of next week," said Tolby, "and then it does look like there are some indications that we could get back into a wet pattern closer to the middle of March."
Though forecasts more than a week out are difficult to determine, Tolby noted that the weather service is able to examine the probability of atmospheric rivers hitting the area.
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"Those really moist, subtropical storms that we've been getting a lot of this year," said Tolby. "There are some pretty good indications that going into 10 days out we could go into a fairly wet pattern with some atmospheric river storms moving into the area."
This year has already brought an above average number of atmospheric river storms to the Lake Tahoe.
"Usually we get a couple a year, maybe three to five, and that is our overall average, but in California and the Sierra we have pretty wide swings. Sometimes we will get zero or one, and then this year we have gotten 10 or 12," said Tolby.
And that has translated into some serious snowpack for the Sierra Nevada.
Data collected by the California Department of Water Resources on March 1 from its 98 stations scattered throughout the mountain range revealed that the water content of the northern Sierra snowpack — the depth of water that would result if the entire snowpack melted — is 39.2 inches or 159 percent of the multi-decade average.
Heavenly Mountain Resort has recorded 556 inches of snow over the season, Kirkwood Mountain Resort has tallied 578 inches, and Sierra-at-Tahoe has logged 492 inches.
As of March 2, the lake level is at 6,226.74 feet — 3.74 feet about the natural rim. Since Oct. 1, Lake Tahoe has risen roughly 3.5 feet and is 2.36 feet shy of its federal legal limit.
State climatologist Michael Anderson describes this winter as "historic" — but it's not over yet.