Locals try to predict what winter has in store | SierraSun.com

Locals try to predict what winter has in store

As the summer wanes, the great debate is on. Will the Truckee-Tahoe area see the early coming of Old Man Winter?

I have heard all sorts of crazy stuff like: ‘The squirrels are busy gathering nuts, getting fat,’ ” said Greg Dennis of Sports LTD, of South Lake Tahoe. “Everybody’s talking about it. That’s what everybody is hoping for.”

Speculation is not limited merely to the area’s many winter sports enthusiasts.

“Definitely the fall colors, there are a few occasions that are starting to appear a little more than normal,” said Bill Draper, assistant chief of the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Then there are those in the basin whose livelihood depends on the grace of Mother Nature, and though guarded, they too find reason to be hopeful.

“I try not to predict too much because I have heard rumors of an Indian Summer,” Nicole Belt of Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s communications department said.

Though caution prevails at area ski resorts, it is impossible to hold back the optimism from individual employees.

“There’s a big winter going on in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Ben McLeod, public information supervisor at Sierra-at-Tahoe. “The Australians say that when they have a big winter down there, we get one up here.”

Speculation aside, the weather system that moved through South Shore over Labor Day weekend leaving traces of snow on the mountaintops signaled winter for many.

“Well, you never know. This is Tahoe,” said Heavenly Ski Resort spokeswoman Monica Bandows. “But boy, snow over Labor Day really gets you thinking.”

Winter’s early presence was felt on the North Shore too.

“I was biking on Donner Summit and it snowed three-fourths of the way,” Dennis said.

As for official, professional predictions, there are none.

“It is a coin toss,” said Meteorologist Tome Cylke, from the National Weather Service in Reno. “I believe in Chaos Theory which says you can’t predict beyond 30 days.”

He said that while professional forecasters are quick to dismiss any nonconventional methods of weather prediction, they say long-term forecasting is not impossible, though they stress scientific means to meet that end.

“There is a lot of progress being made in long-term forecasting but it is very slow,” Cylke said.

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