‘Everything has missed us’: After record-setting 2019, Tahoe resorts left out to dry in February 2020
While other ski resorts in the Western U.S. have experienced record-breaking snowfall in February, those around the Tahoe Basin have been left out to dry.
Resorts like Copper Mountain and Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado have been touting record snowfall for the month, with Breckenridge piling up 110 inches of snow this month, but the mountains in the Truckee-Tahoe area have had to make due with a single, early-February storm that delivered a scant 2 to 3 inches of snow to the slopes.
“A year ago, the storm track coming out of the Pacific was pointed right at the Sierra. This year it’s been pointed much farther north. Everything has missed us. The only precipitation that’s fallen was a small amount on the evening of the 2nd, and then a couple of days with light snow showers,” said Mark Deutschendorf, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Reno.
“There’s been a persistent high-pressure area that has either been near, or over California-Nevada. We’ve been caught in an unfavorable storm pattern.”
Snow totals this month have been up to 300 inches lower than in February 2019, which saw record-breaking snowfall at a number of the area’s resorts.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows had its snowiest month ever at Squaw’s upper mountain, piling up 313 inches of snow in February 2019, compared to just 3 inches this month, which is the lowest amount since 1 inch fell in 1988. The resort’s 48-year average for the month of February is 75.2 inches. Northstar saw 286 inches of snow last February, while this month 3 inches of snow came down. Resorts on Donner Summit went from roughly 275 inches in February 2019 to a few inches this month. Farther south, Mammoth Mountain went from one of its snowiest months in history with 207 inches of snowfall in February 2019, to no new snow at all this month.
Tahoe City has received 1 inch of snow this month, according to the weather service, which is the lowest total since a trace amount was recorded during the month in 1988. The total is the sixth lowest on record. Snow totals in the area have been tracked since 1904, but several years between the turn of the century and 1920s are missing.
On average, Tahoe City receives 39.8 inches of snow in February, making it the second wettest month of they year, behind January.
“It would normally be a month to expect a good number of storm events,” said Deutschendorf on the dry weather in February.
The Truckee-Tahoe area could see some relief this weekend in the form of a small system heading toward the Sierra.
“We have a low-pressure system coming in just as we leap into March,” said Deutschendorf. “We’ll start seeing some winds pick up on Saturday. There could be some light accumulations of snow as early as Sunday morning, maybe into Sunday evening.”
In the extended forecast, Deutschendorf said next week looks relatively dry, but “we might start seeing a weather pattern coming in, maybe toward the second weekend of March.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643.
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