Storm door to stay wide open
Truckee may be entering the snowiest period of the winter with two cold systems forecast to follow the current storm.
The front that hammered Truckee starting early Thursday morning may leave behind up to 20 inches of snow by Friday evening.
“They’re lining up and they’re all looking strong,” said Rhett Milne, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
Forecasters expect 10 to 20 inches of snow at lake level, and 2 to 3 feet above 7,000 feet through Friday afternoon.
A second winter storm, forecast to reach Truckee on Sunday night and last through Tuesday, may be as strong or stronger, Milne said.
“Two to 3 feet of snow is not out of the question,” he said, talking about the amount of snow the higher elevations of the Tahoe area might receive.
Meteorologists are also eyeing a low-pressure system headed toward the area on Wednesday night. It is also coming in from the Gulf of Alaska.
Apart from the massive warm storms that brought rain around New Year’s, this may be heaviest precipitation the region has seen this winter ” and little to no rain is forecast out of the disturbances.
“This is the most active week to two weeks we’ve seen this winter,” Milne said of the snow.
To date, precipitation is 145 percent above average through February in the Tahoe region, according to hydrologist Gary Barbato with the weather service. Last year at this time, it was 141 percent above average, but all of it had fallen as snow.
A government snow survey reported Wednesday that the snowpack’s water content is 70 to 84 percent of average.
While many communities outside of Tahoe watch closely for the monthly survey because it tells them how much water they’ll have in reservoirs come summer, experts here say they don’t track snowpack numbers that closely.
Snowpack as well as good precipitation ensures underground aquifers are adequately recharged, Barbato said. South Shore does not use enough water to significantly affect its aquifer.
“What it proved to us is the recharge capability of the Sierra Nevada is incredible,” Cocking said. “We have learned from experience that we are in pretty darn good shape.”
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A chance of rain and snow for the high country later this week will disappear by Wednesday night, only to return for the weekend, the National Weather Service said.