Tahoe’s water level rises nearly 5 inches; resorts report 2-4 feet of snow | SierraSun.com

Tahoe’s water level rises nearly 5 inches; resorts report 2-4 feet of snow

A surfer rides a wave off Lake Tahoe's North Shore Friday afternoon. It was the first of two storm systems to hammer the region with wind, rain and snow this weekend.
Courtesy Chris Turner / rimfirephotography.net |

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — A pair of wet storms hammered the greater Tahoe-Truckee region Friday through Monday, causing power outages and road closures and offering a bit of relief amid California’s ongoing drought.

The stronger system swept through the area Friday, bringing snow at high-elevation areas, waves on Lake Tahoe as high as seven feet and heavy winds, including a 134 mph gust that was recorded Friday afternoon near Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.

Roughly 3,000 Truckee Donner Public Utility District customers were without power for much of Friday when winds blew down trees, causing damage at the main substation near the lumber yard in Truckee, severing electricity across several grids in the town.

Some neighborhoods reported not seeing power return until 5 p.m. or later. Further, many homes not served by the station, including Donner Lake and the Glenshire subdivision, also lost power.

A brush fire also started near the Truckee substation at about 9:30 a.m. Friday due to winds, although TDPUD Spokesman Steven Poncelet said the fire itself did not cause the outage there.

Truckee Fire Protection District crews quickly put out the fire. No one was hurt in the incident.

No injuries were reported from the weekend weather events, although there were many slide-offs and minor crashes across snowy and slushy Sierra passes such as Brockway Summit on Highway 267 and along the Mt. Rose Highway between Reno and Incline Village.

Several hundred homes across the West and North shores of Lake Tahoe, as well as several thousands in Reno and the Washoe and Carson valleys, also experienced power outages Friday. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the Bay Area were also without power.


Heavy rains also caused a big rock slide Friday that closed a 3-mile stretch of old Highway 40 between Truckee and Sugar Bowl Resort.

California Highway Patrol public information officer told The Associated Press on Monday that no one was hurt in the Friday slide.

Some very large granite boulders remain on the road, which will be closed for several days, he said, because large construction equipment will have to be brought in to help clear the highway.

Travelers can still access Sugar Bowl by taking the Soda Springs exit off Interstate 80.

While it continued to rain all weekend, the second storm system swept through Sunday afternoon, bringing heavier rain and more wet snow up top.

The system, which wasn’t as severe as Friday’s, especially in terms of wind gusts, had calmed by Monday morning, although some residents in Truckee and on the West Shore experienced roving power outages.

According to the National Weather Service in Reno, the storms offered the region a much-needed break from an unseasonably mild winter and helped push up Lake Tahoe water levels by nearly 5 inches.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the lake’s level at Tahoe City was measured at 6,222.78 inches. The 4.8-inch rise means that roughly 16 billion gallons of water was added to Lake Tahoe from the two systems, according to NWS.

The lake’s water level dipped below its natural 6,223-foot rim last fall.


The region’s ski resorts also benefited from the storms, with areas reporting anywhere from two to nearly four feet at their highest levels, a welcome sight considering the upcoming three-day Presidents Day Weekend, which typically is a high-tourist weekend at Lake Tahoe.

“Mt. Rose’s base elevation of 8,260 feet benefited us during this storm system and brought top-to-bottom snow all weekend long,” Mike Pierce, director of marketing at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, said in a statement.

The snow allowed the resort to open The Chutes, its most popular and advanced terrain, on Tuesday for the first time this winter.

The new snow has reportedly led to terrain expansions at many other resorts, including Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, Northstar California, Diamond Peak, Boreal and Sugar Bowl, among others.

On the West Shore, Homewood Mountain Resort, which closed recently due to the Sierra’s poor snowpack, will reopen Friday, Feb. 13, according to its website.

The upcoming forecast doesn’t bode well for the snowpack, however. According to NWS, high temperatures in Tahoe City should approach 60 degrees by Friday, and they’re expected to near 65 by Saturday in Truckee.

Sunny skies and mild temperatures are expected to continue into next week.

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