Winter is coming, but what should the Lake Tahoe Basin expect?
October 22, 2018
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It's crazy season for the snow-minded.
Skiers and boarders want to know how much powder they can plan on slaying this winter and those who would rather see snow dumps measured in inches instead of feet are bracing for what may — or may not — be headed to the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Meteorologists and weather outlets, while tracking hurricanes this time of year, are also giving winter predictions.
And most are calling for a slightly below average winter, although forecasting a few months out would be more of an educated guess, said Evan LaGuardia, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno.
"Well, we're going to start to get colder and windier weather that has some storms, but looking out a few months ahead is pretty impossible," said LaGuardia, whose area of focus includes the Lake Tahoe region and eastern Sierra Nevada.
He's more worried about getting through fire season without the tall pines going up in flames. Without some precipitation in the near future, the fire season could be extended.
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"We still will have a high fire risk if we don't see any good rainstorms, and we don't see any significant storms on the horizon," LaGuardia said. "We don't see any signs of a major winter."
The basin has received a couple of snow dustings on its tallest peaks, including at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, a resort that plans to open to the public on Oct. 26 depending on the weather (of note, the resort opened limited terrain on Oct. 20-21 for season-pass holders only).
The nights have been below freezing, a much-needed component for the resort to be the first to open as planned.
"We've been making snow at every opportunity the cold temps allow," said Mike Pierce, Mt. Rose's longtime marketing director, who added the long-range forecasts show periods of freezing temperatures and some potential to receive some natural white stuff. "We are optimistic and our goal is to still make Nevada Day (Friday, Oct. 26). Be ready to make turns in your Halloween costume."
The Old Farmer's Almanac, which claims an 80 percent success rate in its forecasts, released its winter outlook in August that says temperatures will be near or cooler than normal, with rainfall above normal in the northern United States, slightly below normal in the south and average in the middle.
It also says mountain snows will be near normal with the most storms happening in late November, late December and early in 2019. It goes on to say April and May will be cooler and drier than normal.
AccuWeather Inc., says it will be a "mixed bag" according to an article published Oct. 10 by one of its staff writers.
Their forecasters predict, "January into the early part of February to be the most active period for strong weather."
AccuWeather also says snowfall will be scarce early and mild temperatures at night may make it difficult for resorts to make snow.
The company also says Pennsylvania into New England will be best for late winter snow.
Onthesnow.com is calling for 80 percent of average snowfall for Lake Tahoe and Mammoth at 90 percent.
The website that gives daily morning snow reports and mountain statistics for each resort says just three areas in the country will receive more than average snowfall, Taos Ski Valley and Angel Fire in New Mexico and Wolf Creek Ski Area in southern Colorado.
Bryan Allegretto with Opensnow.com, a go to forecast for many basin residents, gives "The Tahoe Daily Snow" report has yet to make his winter prediction, he says that will come late in October.
But the only close-to-accurate forecasts happen about two weeks ahead of the weather event.
"It's hard to tell if it will be wet or dry," LaGuardia said. "And as far as how much snow we may get, we have no idea."