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Welcome back, Winter

Andrew

Winter made a roaring comeback last weekend with 37 inches of snow falling at lake level since Friday and as much as 4 feet at the higher elevations. Area ski resorts reported as many as 73 inches of new snow over the course of the three-day storm, which mandated highway chain control as low as 1,400 feet at Applegate. And more snow is in the forecast for this weekend.

Mike Pechner of Goldenwest Meteorology predicted 2 to 3 feet of snow above 8,000 feet with a foot at lake level beginning Sunday and probably continuing through at least Tuesday of next week.

“After a series of very cold Alaskan storms, the storm track becomes more westerly with milder Pacific air accompanying several weather fronts which will affect the Tahoe Basin,” Pechner said. “I think the snow will be right around lake level, so it will be Sierra cement. No more powder.”

This will mean more work for Caltrans, which was working overtime last weekend. With 300 staff members working in 12-hour shifts to keep the roads clear, Caltrans employees mobilized last Friday morning and continued until Tuesday.

“We had everybody out there,” said Laura Featherstone, Caltrans public information officer. “As one of our managers said, ‘anyone who had a pulse was out there working.’ We even called in staff from the Bay Area.”

There were numerous accidents and some periodic lane closures because of the fender benders, according to Terri Fisher of the California Highway Patrol. However, Featherstone said, “For as many people as we had working and for as many people using I 80, it went fairly well.”

The storm, with winds up to 50 miles per hour over the ridgetops, also closed the upper slopes of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley USA. Nonetheless, with Squaw reporting 67 inches of new snow and 92 inches at the top of Alpine Meadows, the fresh powder, despite the high winds was more than welcome.

“It was a wonderful weekend and we’re looking forward to another one,” said Becky Moore, director of sales for Squaw Valley USA.

The storm not only helped out the ski resorts; the multiple feet of powder, albeit with low water content, pushed snow water amounts closer toward the average to date.

“The snow had a good impact. We are up to 66 percent of normal to date,” said Jeff Cohen, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. The snowpack now contains 14 inches of water, up from 11 inches and 52 percent of normal Feb. 9. Cohen was reluctant to prognosticate on run-off.

“There has been some indication run-of will be below normal. How much, I hesitate to estimate,” Cohen said.

Mike Pechner of Goldenwest Meteorology was a little more optimistic about the possibility of achieving at least an average snowfall year.

“I think we’ll make it,” Pechner said. “Spring looks very wet. A Miracle March is a distinct possibility and would ensure a good water year.”

Pechner said the area is just a few inches behind last year with depths ranging from two feet at lake level and 11 feet above 8,000 feet. To date, 240 inches of snow have fallen at Donner Summit which has a current depth of 90 inches. According to Pechner, there were 241 inches on the Summit at this time last year.

The next storm has its good news and bad news, said Pechner.

“The bad news for skiers is that conditions won’t be that great. The good news is the water content of the snow will be a lot higher which translates to more run-off and hydroelectric power.””After a series of very cold Alaskan storms, the storm track becomes more westerly with milder Pacific air accompanying several weather fronts which will affect the Tahoe Basin,” Pechner said. “I think the snow will be right around lake level, so it will be Sierra cement. No more powder.”

This will mean more work for Caltrans, which was working overtime last weekend. With 300 staff members working in 12-hour shifts to keep the roads clear, Caltrans employees mobilized last Friday morning and continued until Tuesday.

“We had everybody out there,” said Laura Featherstone, Caltrans public information officer.

“As one of our managers said, ‘Anyone who had a pulse was out there working.’ We even called in staff from the Bay Area,” said Featherstone.

There were numerous accidents and some periodic lane closures because of the fender benders, according to Terri Fisher of the California Highway Patrol. However, Featherstone said, “For as many people as we had working and for as many people using I-80, it went fairly well.”

The storm, with winds up to 50 miles per hour over the ridgetops, also closed the upper slopes of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley USA. Nonetheless, with Squaw reporting 67 inches of new snow and 92 inches at the top of Alpine Meadows, the fresh powder, despite the high winds was more than welcome.

“It was a wonderful weekend and we’re looking forward to another one,” said Becky Moore, director of sales for Squaw Valley USA.

The storm not only helped out the ski resorts; the multiple feet of powder, albeit with low water content, pushed snow water amounts closer toward the average to date.

“The snow had a good impact. We are up to 66 percent of normal to date,” said Jeff Cohen, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources.

The snowpack now contains 14 inches of water, up from 11 inches and 52 percent of normal Feb. 9. Cohen was reluctant to prognosticate on runoff.

“There has been some indication runoff will be below normal. How much, I hesitate to estimate,” Cohen said.

Pechner was a little more optimistic about the possibility of achieving at least an average snowfall year.

“I think we’ll make it,” Pechner said. “Spring looks very wet. A Miracle March is a distinct possibility and would ensure a good water year.”

Pechner said the area is just a few inches behind last year with depths ranging from two feet at lake level and 11 feet above 8,000 feet. To date, 240 inches of snow have fallen at Donner Summit which has a current depth of 90 inches. According to Pechner, there were 241 inches on the Summit at this time last year.

The next storm has its good news and bad news, said Pechner.

“The bad news for skiers is that conditions won’t be that great. The good news is the water content of the snow will be a lot higher which translates to more runoff and hydroelectric power,” he said.


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