Mountain Times: A record winter? We will see…
TRUCKEE/TAHOE – The sun is shining now, but what a week it was last week, and what a winter so far!I have lived in the Truckee/Tahoe area since December of 1971. That is nothing compared to many native residents like Mary De Lisle (she was born and has lived up here for 90+ years), but long enough for me to recall some big winters.The most memorable winters for me have been the winters of 1981/82 (the Alpine Meadows avalanche was in March of 1982) and 1982/83. 1982/83 was the year that the snow measured nearly 700 inches on Donner Summit which included measurable snow in both April and May.It sounds like the ski areas are already over that mark. I have also heard that the Snow Lab had a measurement early last week of 16 feet snowpack depth, which equals that in 82/83, and water content was 150 percent of normal. That was before this last series of storms!I worked for Pacific Telephone during these back to back heavy winters and I have many memories of long hours during storms trying to restore service to our customers. I also remember that during those two winters we had very few service outages in Northstar because the developer had installed underground utilities (a novel idea). The rest of the North Tahoe/Truckee areas were fair game to winter’s rage.Serene Lakes was the most difficult area for the Truckee crews to work in. Nearly all the aerial cables and service wires ended up under the snow. We would have to put ladders up on the snow banks, crawl up with our tools, snowshoes, and shovels, then walk down the aerial lead to isolate and repair the trouble. If the damaged service drop wires were under the snow, we would just run new ones over the surface, then return in the spring and early summer to rerun new service drops properly and to remove the temporary ones.In those days, long time resident and PT&T employee, Bryan Devoe (now retired), was our number one repairman. He loved working on the summit and he knew who everyone was and where everyone lived. During the height of the winter you could not see the houses from the streets since in those days driveways were not plowed in Serene Lakes. Placer County allowed “on street parking” in Serene Lakes (when the roads were able to be plowed) alternating the designated side of the street from one side to the other, from day to day.Lillian Richards, one of my colleagues here at Dickson Realty, lived in Serene Lakes in the late ’70s and early ’80s. She can remember parking on the appropriate side of the street, then having to climb up and over the snow bank to walk across the snow to her house. “We dug snow stairs to get up the bank and carried a shovel to dig new steps if the blower took out the steps while we were gone.” In those days, nearly all homes had entry doors on every story of the house.Some homeowners erected portable “A frame” tunnel sections from their front doors out to the street. Once the plows went by, the owners would go out their tunnels and shovel out the remaining few feet to the street. “During those big winters only the large snow blowers could be used. If the roads weren’t plowed sufficiently, we would park in Soda Springs and cross country ski or snowshoe to our homes,” recalls Lillian. Those were the days.Last Tuesday (prior to the last round of storms) Alice and I drove up to Serene Lakes to look around and take some pictures. Most people now have driveways, garages and snow removal service. However, the depth of the snow up there is staggering and if you think you have too much snow, go take a look at how others live. Pick a clear sunny day so as not to impede with snow removal efforts. Also do not forget your camera and your GPS system as there are no street signs in sight!Norm and Alan Nicholls of the Nicholls Real Estate Group are affiliated with Dickson Realty at 11500 Donner Pass Road in Truckee.
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