California storms dump 3 to 4 feet of snow across Tahoe area

While the Bay Area gets drenched with rain, the Tahoe region is enjoying early season snow totals surpassing April averages in some places — and there’s more on the way.

The Jan. 9 to 11 storm has seen impressive snow totals, with the highest amounts coming in the Central Sierra. Northstar California Ski Resort led the way among all Tahoe area resorts, with 50 inches. The Tahoe basin picked up “the lower half of the forecast” between 2.5 to 4 feet, according to @TahoeWeather

Tahoe North

-Sugar Bowl Resort: 41 inches
-Boreal Mountain California: 41 inches
-Palisades Tahoe: 40 inches
-Homewood Mountain Resort: 31 inches
-Tahoe Donner: 39 inches
-Northstar: 50 inches
-Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: 42 inches
-Diamond Peak Ski Resort: 31 inches

Tahoe South

-Heavenly Ski Resort: 41 inches
-Sierra at Tahoe: 40 inches
-Kirkwood Ski Resort: 42 inches

Resorts outside of Tahoe saw even higher snow buildup: Mammoth Mountain led the way with an eye-popping 72 inches, followed by Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort at 51 inches.

Central Sierra

-Bear Valley Resort: 46 inches
-Dodge Ridge: 51 inches
-Mammoth: 72 inches
-China Peak Mountain Resort: 33 inches

The latest totals now put four Sierra mountains in the coveted 300-inch club: Palisades Tahoe (300 inches), Sierra at Tahoe (312 inches), Dodge Ridge (307 inches) and Mammoth (328 inches). Others like Kirkwood (294 inches), Northstar (280 inches), Boreal (296 inches) and Sugar Bowl (291 inches) are on the verge of joining them in the coming days. 

Video by Marcus Morgan Courtesy of Palisades Tahoe

For the season to date, eight resorts are listed at over 200% of their average snow totals. A whopping five resorts have crossed 80% of their average snowfall for the season. Only Dodge Ridge has already exceeded its season average for snow at 102% with this week’s storm.

On top of those totals released Wednesday, ski areas are reporting an additional “1-7 inches of snow in the past 24 hours,” but rain-driven melting impacted new snow as temperatures rose above freezing overnight, per Tahoe Weather.

The latest round of storms has bolstered the state’s snowpack, much to officials’ delight.

More than 6 feet of new snow has fallen throughout the Sierra Nevada in the last week alone, according to the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab. “Some great looking seasonal (Oct 1 – now) totals so far,” the lab said on Twitter. “Some locations above April 1 [snow water equivalent] average!” 

Meteorologist Cory Mueller with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office confirmed to SFGATE that as of Wednesday, California has already reached 100% of the critical April 1 average, a dateline researchers use as a bellwether for the state’s snow water equivalent snowpack. That measurement grew to 104% of the April 1 average as of Thursday morning.

Caltrans crews clear the road on Highway 50 over Echo Summit for avalanche control work in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Dec. 31, 2022. 

Caltrans District 3 via AP

To surpass California’s average April snowpack measurement this early in the season would be a notable achievement, but not one without precedent. “It’s happened before, but certainly not in recent memory,” Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Lab, told SFGATE via phone Thursday, pointing out that it’s been at least 20 years since this last happened. 

“It’s a really terrific sign,” he added. “We do still have several months of the winter left. As long as the storm door stays open, we can look at potentially some drought relief from this weather.”

“There is still a possibility [the April measurement] could go down,” he added.

The state is nearing 230% of its season-to-date snowpack measurement.

“Last December, we saw similar numbers,” Mueller said. “It was way above average snowpack and just like that it got turned off. We’re already in the middle of January, so that’s later in the year where traditionally we have a higher snowpack.”

Even as snow continues to fall in the Sierra and rain strengthens reservoirs across California, scientists are aware this isn’t your average weather pattern. “What is a little surprising is just how many of these large atmospheric river storms we’re getting stacked in one behind the other,” Schwartz explained.

For Tahoe’s part, the region has played a major role in boosting California’s snow totals over the past few days. “Seventy inches is definitely high, but it’s not uncommon with a good atmospheric river for the mountains to see 3 to 5 feet of snow,” Mueller explained. “But that is a lot of snow. Don’t get me wrong. Those are definitely impressive totals.”

This amount of snow makes it tempting for skiers to trek out to Tahoe, but the Sierra Avalanche Center lists considerable avalanche danger in the area, something that also concerns Schwartz.

“That’s the big question I’ve gotten lately,” he said. “As far as having too much water, there’s no such thing. As far as too much snow, that’s right at the top. It presents a significant hazard.”

Another significant hazard is travel conditions, which are expected to be difficult throughout the weekend. The next snow-packed storm moves in Friday morning, with more systems forecast back-to-back into early next week. Mountain travel will be “dangerous” on Saturday, officials with the National Weather Service warned.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! Planetcirculate is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.