Sierra Nevada Snowpack Biggest in 22 Years

Sierra Nevada Snowpack Biggest in 22 Years

Sierra Nevada Snowpack Biggest in 22 Years
Photo provided by Holly’s Place of South Lake Tahoe

After a strong January of blizzards and “atmospheric rivers” storms, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is now 177 percent of the historic average, the biggest in more than two decades. 25 feet of new snow has fallen on Heavenly ski resort in South Lake Tahoe since New Year’s Day.

After a brief dry off period, a new round of storms in lined up to hit Lake Tahoe. This storm system is projected to bring another 2-3 feet of snow to the Sierra’s by this weekend. The National Weather Service has placed a Winter Storm Warning that will remain in effect from 1 AM Thursday to 4 AM Saturday above 6500 feet.

  • Timing: snow will move into the Sierra late Wednesday night. Becoming moderate to heavy Thursday morning. Snow is expected to decrease substantially in intensity Thursday afternoon and evening before becoming moderate to heavy again for late Thursday night through Friday.
  • Snow accumulations: 1 to 3 feet above 7000 feet, highest along the Sierra Crest, with 6 to 12 inches from 6500 to 7000 feet and up to 6 inches down to lake level.
  • Winds: south to southwest 10 to 20 with gusts to 35 mph. Ridge gusts up to 90 mph.
  • Wave Heights on Lake Tahoe: 1 to 3 feet, with the highest waves from mid Lake to North and Northeast shores.
  • Snow levels: rising to around 7000 feet Thursday afternoon. Snow levels will fall to around 6500 feet Friday, then to lake level Friday night.
  • Impacts: travel will become difficult due to snow covered roads and low visibility across Sierra passes, especially Thursday morning to early afternoon and again late Thursday night and Friday. Avalanche risk may increase with dangerous conditions possible for back country activities.

What does this mean for travelers? It means take it slow when coming over the passes. Several hotels and resorts are welcoming the new snow and are hoping it brings in the skiers!

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