Bellwethers: Predicting winter’s arrival | SierraSun.com

Bellwethers: Predicting winter’s arrival

Norm and Alan Nicholls

It is time for our annual winter predictions with some help from some of our friends and readers.

Will 2006-2007 be a match for 2005-2006? We’ll have to see.

I, Norm, predicted a long, wet winter last year based on the number of cottontail rabbits observed in the summer and fall of 2005. This year the cottontails have disappeared almost entirely, so, no help there. I’ve observed an abundance of coyotes, a few foxes and actually spotted a bobcat on Tahoe Donner golf course. Looks like more predators than normal and all of them hunting. Therefore, my prediction will be for snow beginning in early November, ski areas opening in time for Thanksgiving (although meager coverage), then periods of big snows from Dec. 1 through the middle of February, then moderate snow through March. We “will” have a real “definable” spring in 2007.

My wife, Alice, thinks it will be a long winter with moderate snowfall. She is basing the “long” winter upon the huge amount of pine nuts and pine needles this fall, and the fact that we had a visit by Mr. Bear.

Near the end of August, Mr. Bear found his way into our home by sliding our screen door open. He was trying to help himself to Alice’s cake she had baked. It was around 1 a.m. when we heard the original commotion downstairs. We thought our visitor was a raccoon, so we started yelling and ran down the stairs to the kitchen hoping to scare the daylights out of it. As we were moving down the stairs we could hear an animal quickly exiting the same way he had entered.

About 45 minutes later we again heard something trying to get back in the sliding door that we had now locked. I took a flashlight and went to an upstairs window above the slider to view our visitor. To my surprise there was a medium-sized bear. He had given up and was heading toward someone else’s for dessert.

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Alisha York predicts “just enough snow to say it is too much for a girl to shovel off the deck. Why? Because I am lazy.”

Joel Lynch has been reading the papers or has been listening to the Weather Channel… “It’s an El Nino year and it’s going to be warm. It will cause more rain than snow in the northern Sierra, but plentiful snow in Big Bear, Mammoth and South Tahoe.”

“We will see a pleasant December with snow starting to fall on Christmas Eve and continuing, ‘non-stop’ until mid February. Mild from mid-February until the end of March. Floods in April,” says Norm Justesen, long-time Truckee resident. His tip off… “the fine feathers of the Stellar Jays.”

Good friend David Wright wrote a very detailed forecast, so here are just a few excerpts: “Minor cold storms in November, then in December we will really get clobbered by at least three 4-foot to 6-foot dumps, with I-80 closing twice, ski areas on limited operation, Christmas basically a blizzard-white-out, to be followed by a spring week early in January. The rest of January we will be clobbered again with a couple of Alaska Gulf bone freezers of Biblical scale.”

“By March, we will have 170 percent of normal snow pack, the mental capacity of locals will be diminished, and many people will blame it all on the Bush administration.”

Alan’s prediction for this winter… “long, cold and lots of powder snow.” Why? “I want to get at least 75 days of skiing in this winter and sell 10 homes too. Since my golf game is awful, winter can’t come soon enough. It’ll probably be a late start.”

And, per Mavis Bowes: “Old Indian say long, hard winter. Why? White man pile much wood on porch.” She continues, “I have it from a good source that only fools and people from off the hill forecast the weather.” Enough said.

“Doc” Tapia was the predecessor to Steve Randall as general manager of the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District. It was under his leadership that the district acquired the West End Beach and public piers at Donner Lake.

Winners were: Ed Wangler (early bird), Norm Justesen, Mary Delisle, Lupe Hodges, Charlie White, Pete Kolp, and Sharon Pace Arnold.