Expert: ‘Grim’ snowpack in Tahoe Basin can quickly change with single storm | TheUnion.com

Expert: ‘Grim’ snowpack in Tahoe Basin can quickly change with single storm

Bill Rozak
Special to The Union

The snowpack in the Tahoe Basin is "grim" right now, but at this point one cold storm could quickly turnaround everything, according to one expert.

The snowpack in the Tahoe Basin is 35 percent of median, said Jeff Anderson, water supply specialist with the Nevada Natural Resources Conservation Service. Rainfall totals are 113 percent, he added.

He said Thursday a snow station that sits at 8,500 feet at Heavenly Mountain Resort recorded snowpack of about 75 percent while a station at Squaw Valley recorded over 100 percent. Both resorts have slightly stronger snowpacks so far this season. Mount Rose also is above the median.

"But below 8,000 feet, we have minimal snow," Anderson said. "The difference was that we had more snow at lower elevations last year. The storms were colder. As the days tick by, those percentages will continue to look grim for every dry day we have. It's been so dry since the last storm. Typically, we're getting storms right now."

“The difference was that we had more snow at lower elevations last year. The storms were colder.”

— Jeff Anderson, water supply specialist

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Last year, the meteorological catch phrase seemed to be "atmospheric rivers." So far, about a week before winter officially begins, the saying "high-pressure system" has dominated the forecasts — and made snow lovers cringe and mutter obscenities under their breath. It also makes some rejoice after spending what seemed like more time with their snow shovels last year than their loved ones.

A large high-pressure system has been sitting off the entire West Coast forcing storms north, over the western United States and settling on the East Coast, said Edan Weishahn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Reno.

"It's kinda been a bummer," Weishahn said. "I'd rather have storms once a week that come through and clear out the air and dump snow on the mountains. There's a high-pressure area off the entire West Coast and a low-pressure area in the east. Thankfully over the next week, it looks like that high pressure is going to move."

She said it's very unpredictable, but we might see some small snow showers. However, it doesn't look like there are any serious winter storms that are going to come through before the end of 2017.

Last winter, intense winter storms pounded the Tahoe Basin in January.

"At this time of year, it can turn around quickly," Anderson said. "A cold storm would really help. We'll forget all this again next year if a big, cold storm comes through."

Bill Rozak is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of The Union based in South Lake Tahoe. Contact him at brozak@tahoedailytribune.com.

Got snow?

Before you head up the hill, check out TheUnion.com’s Snow Report for the latest snow totals (24/48 hours), current conditions, open terrain access and lift operations at North Lake Tahoe area ski resorts.