Lake Tahoe weather: More snow in forecast as El Niño patterns shift
January 22, 2016
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE , Calif.— While warmer temperatures this week may have caused concerns among avid skiers and snowboarders regarding conditions moving forward, this weekend's upcoming weather system should alleviate worry.
Even with rain at lake level this week, higher elevations continue to receive snow. As of Thursday, Jan. 21, Heavenly Mountain Resort reported 22 inches of new snow from recent storms, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort reported 38 inches in the last 7 days.
"Go up 1,000 feet and the conditions are pretty good," said OpenSnow.com Tahoe Basin forecaster Bryan Allegretto. "People that are skiing the backcountry at 8,000 and 7,000 feet are saying it's phenomenal."
With spring weather predicted to switch to more of an El Niño-influenced pattern, there were concerns earlier in the season that precipitation could come as rain rather than snow later in the ski season.
Allegretto was optimistic, however.
"I think Northern California, we're looking good," he said, describing storm patterns bringing systems to Northern California and the Pacific Northwest instead of Southern California — as had been previously predicted. "It's much different looking than we've see in previous strong El Niño years. I see Northern California and Tahoe continuing to get storms every week. It'll just keep doing what it's doing."
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Allegretto also said that storms late next week have the potential to bring cooler temperatures.
Even so, National Weather Service Reno-based forecaster Tony Fuentes was hesitant to make rain or snow predictions for the remainder of the season.
"It's not something you can pin down or be specific about," he said. "We're waiting to see how it plays out."
He did say that the strong El Niño could potentially bring larger storms later in the winter, compared to recent smaller systems.
"I wouldn't say 'Be worried,'" Fuentes added, regarding snow concerns.
While initially predicting one to two feet of snow at higher elevations — even as much as three along the Sierra Crest — forecasters reduced the weekend storm threat Thursday.
Predictions are still calling for 3 to 9 inches at lake level, between Friday night and Saturday, with over a foot possible at higher elevations.
Motorists should expect travel delays and chain restrictions. Backcountry avalanche danger may rise over the weekend with new snow.
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