December snowfall record smashed

50-year-old record broken as area receives 212 inches of snow

Palisades Tahoe on Monday announced its snowfall record for December had been broken.
Kate Abraham / Palisades Tahoe

Following a dry November, the Lake Tahoe area was slammed by storms in December, setting a record for snowfall in the month.

The UC Berkley Central Sierra Snow Lab said the region broke its snowfall record for the month on Monday, surpassing the 179 inches of snowfall that fell in December 1970.

In total, the Central Sierra Snow Lab reported 212 inches of snowfall for the month, making it the third snowiest month on record. January 2017 holds the record with 238 inches of snowfall, followed by February 2019, which saw 221 inches of snow.

This month’s historic snowfall also broke the record for most snow from October through the end of the year, according to the snow lab. The season total, thus far, is 266 inches of snow, which broke the record of 260 inches of snow that fell in the last three months of 1970.

In Tahoe City, a reported 103 inches of snow has come down this month, according to data from the National Weather Service. This month’s snowfall is the fourth most in a December and most since 1970. The most December snowfall recorded in Tahoe City was 114 inches in 1931.


Recent storms have caused closures and delays at local ski resorts as mountain operations crews worked to dig out from all of the snowfall.

Palisades Tahoe announced it set a snowfall record for the month, topping the previous December record of 179 inches of snowfall, set in 1970. The resort has reported 210 inches of snowfall for the month.

At Sugar Bowl Resort, Director of Sales and Marketing Jon Slaughter said he believes the mountain likely set a record for the month, but was unable to confirm.

The resort has received 118 inches of snow from the recent storms, and is at 257 inches of snow for its season total. Going into what is expected to be a busy weekend at local resorts, Slaughter urged skiers and riders to purchase tickets as far in advance as possible.

“Buy your tickets early and in advance,” he said. “We sold out (Thursday) at about 10 p.m. (Wednesday). If you want to come to Sugar Bowl, buy online at least by midnight the day prior.”

At Northstar California Resort, 130 inches of snow has fallen from the recent storms, pushing the resort’s season total to 274 inches of snow. On Tahoe’s West Shore, Homewood Mountain Resort said it picked up more than 10 feet of new snow, and now has a season total at its summit of 262 inches. On the other side of Tahoe, Diamond Peak Ski Resort said it also received 10 feet of snow from the recent storms. The resort has had 210 inches of snow for the season. In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort reported 71 inches of recent snowfall for a season total of 179 inches.


The National Weather Service office in Reno has forecast the coldest air in nearly five years to arrive in certain areas of the Sierra this weekend.

“That’s in certain areas,” said Lead Forecaster Dawn Johnson. “Higher up will have more of a wind chill, but in terms of the actual air temperature, it will be down in those colder valleys.”

Forecast lows in Truckee are expected to be in the single digits tonight going into the morning.

“If we see skies clear out enough New Year’s Eve night, that’s what’s going to contribute to things really dropping off,” said Johnson.

Going into next week, the area will again be impacted by a winter storm. Winds are expected to pick up in the Tahoe Basin Monday afternoon with snow moving in by that evening. Snow is forecast to continue to fall through Tuesday with a few showers lingering until Wednesday.

“This one is more of a typical winter storm,” said Johnson. “Nothing crippling like we just saw, but with the wind and considering how drought stressed all the trees have been, we’re seeing a lot more trees falling down. With the strong winds again that might be a concern.”

Downed trees have resulted in several power outages in the area this month. Johnson also cautioned that with increased winds, recent snowfall will be blowing around, making travel difficult Monday and Tuesday.

“Be prepared for more winter weather, and stay off the roads if possible Monday night into Tuesday,” concluded Johnson.


Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe – 275″

Northstar California Resort – 274″

Boreal Mountain Resort – 270″

Palisades Tahoe – 263″

Homewood Mountain Resort – 262″

Sugar Bowl Resort – 257″

Diamond Peak Ski Resort – 210″

Kirkwood Mountain Resort – 209″

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort– 204″

Heavenly Mountain Resort – 179″

Sierra-at-Tahoe – 106″

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User