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Tahoe Nugget #176:

Snowstorms Bless Tahoe Resorts
January 23, 2010

The recent series of powerful Pacific storms has ended and California is cleaning up. Some forecasters had predicted up to ten feet of snow at Tahoe ski areas this past week and we nearly made it!

Kirkwood Mountain Resort added about 7.3 feet to their slopes and they now boast a base from 9 to 13 feet. Since January 12, Squaw Valley USA packed on more than 8 feet to their runs. In general, storm totals for the region came in at about 5 to 7 feet above the 7,000 foot mark, with considerably less at the lower elevations including about 3 to 4 feet at Lake Tahoe.

The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory on Donner Summit picked up close to 6 feet of new snow. The lab's manager, Randall Osterhuber, said that they are now above average for the date, and well above last year.

On Thursday, January 21, 2010, an extraordinary event occurred when the all-time record lowest barometric pressure was set at Reno Tahoe Airport. At 2:46 p.m. the mercury fell to 28.99 inches, exceeding the previous record from Jan. 27, 1916. (Pressure data records in Reno date back to 1870.)

This pressure level is similar to a category one or category two hurricane, except that we did not have similar sustained wind speeds or the heavy precipitation. Wind gusts over the ridges this week were occasionally in the 100 mph plus range, but that is not uncommon during winter storms when the jet stream is ripping out of the Pacific.

All in all, the series of winter storms were quite manageable and California Highway crews kept roads open and in good shape. Several wrecks did close down Interstate 80 at certain times, but spin outs and crashes are to be expected on that heavily traveled freeway. Chain controls mandate speeds below 30 mph for all drivers (with chains or 4-wheel drive with snow tires) which tends to keep injuries and fatalities to a minimum.

Below you will find some photos from the week as well as a few video clips of deep snow and driving over Donner Pass.

Video Clip #1: Deep snow at Homewood Mountain Resort

Video Clip #2: Driving over Donner Pass:

Video Clip #3: Drought Buster?

Photo #1: Graphic shows record low pressure system passing over Northern California n January 21.
Photo #2: Record low barometric pressure reading at NWS Reno office. Bag of chips has expanded to due to very low pressure.
Photo #3: Wrecks occasionally plagued Interstate 80 during the storm events. I passed this one on Friday afternoon, January 22.
Photo #4: This tree-man watches my car at night and laughs when it gets dented by large pine cones. Gift from my cousin Audrey.

Nugget #176 Record Low Pressure Map

Nugget #176 Record Barometric Pressure

Nugget #176 Car Wreck I 80

Nugget #176 Tree Face


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