Tahoe hopes for good winter | RecordCourier.com

Tahoe hopes for good winter

Staff Reports

Early season storms resulted in the second-wettest October on record in the northern Sierras, enough that one-fourth of California is no longer in a drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The precipitation delivered 7.29 inches of rainfall or 11 billion gallons of water. It increased the lake level by 3.33 inches to just 2.5 inches below its 6,223 foot natural rim making up 57 percent of the previous 5.8 inch amount below its rim level.

The U.S. Drought Monitor report released earlier this month indicated that 12 percent of California was rated unusually dry but not in a drought, which includes the Sierras. Another 12 percent of the state near the Oregon border had normal or better moisture; while three-fourths, mostly in Central and Southern California, remain under drought designation. The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration http://droughtmonitor.

The ski resorts received snow over the weekend, cool temps allow for snowmaking, and there's a chance for accumulation this weekend. Heavenly Mountain Resort is scheduled to open Wednesday; Kirkwood Mountain Resort on Saturday and Sierra-at-Tahoe will open when conditions allow.

A shift south in La NiƱa jet stream helped the Tahoe Basin and filled many of California's reservoirs to capacity. The timing of the October rainfall has long term positive effects by saturating the soil, which allows precipitation to soak into the ground before snow arrives and helps to preserve next spring's snowmelt. This sets the tone for what portends to be a monumental season.

According to SKI Magazine, over the last 50 years when the Tahoe Region received around 8 inches of precipitation during October the winter season has brought above-average snowfall 75 percent of the time.

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"While we're primarily a recreation-based destination we're also a betting town, so I'll take those odds for an above-average winter," said Carol Chaplin, president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. "Winter enthusiasts have begun pre-season rituals with 'Pray for Snow' parties, ski film premieres, and tuning gear, which all contribute to the buzz around town."