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Tahoe Nugget #187:

2010 Winter Wrap Up
July 12, 2010

The cool, damp spring weather in Northern California has segued into summer and the prolonged winter of 2010 has finally bit the dust. Well, almost.

Officially, the 2010 water year ended on June 30 for California's coastal regions and interior valleys. The lowlands calculate annual precipitation based on a July 1 to June 30 cycle. In the Sierra, however, our water year runs from October 1 to September 30. Early October is traditionally the time of year when reservoir storage and stream flow are at their lowest of the year.

1Nugget #187 Father's Day Boating on TahoeOn Father's Day Weekend in June, snow was still plentiful in the high country over Tahoe's West Shore.

Last winter's El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean was no barn burner when it came to California's winter precipitation, but the influence of warmer ocean water in the tropics did work some magic and produced above average rain and snowfall for much of the Sierra range.

The water was desperately needed after three consecutive years with below normal precipitation. El Niño-influenced winters generally bring enhanced moisture to the central and southern parts of the Golden State and last year was no exception. The town of Redding in the north picked up 91% of their average rainfall, but central and southern California trended from slightly
above normal to well above average at locations like Santa Barbara (123%) and Palm Springs (127%).

2Nugget #187 Squaw July Snow1Still some snow left at Squaw the week before July 4, 2010.

The 8-Station Index for the Northern Sierra, which includes precipitation gages from Mount Shasta City south through Blue Canyon (Interstate 80) and Pacific House (Highway 50), is currently at 109% of normal for the date. That nine percent represents only about three inches of water for the season, but you wouldn't know it looking at current stream and river flows
throughout the Sierra. High water on the Truckee River has precluded any significant release from Lake Tahoe into the system and squelched what is usually the busiest weekend for Tahoe City river rafting companies.

The exceptional late season runoff is less predicated on the above average precipitation this winter than the very cool spring temperatures. The months of April, May and June were all below normal in temperature and that delayed the snow melt significantly.

3Nugget #187 Snow Slowly Melting July1Snowpack melting off in the Mount Rose Meadows in early July. Elevation about 9,600 feet.

The cool spring put a damper on some outdoor activities, but diehard skiers and snowboarders milked the slopes for every last run of the season. Enough snow remained in the mountains for Kirkwood Mountain Resort (which received
nearly 45 feet of snow last winter) to open up for Independence Day Weekend with chair lift rides up the mountain to access skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking (or all three).

Not to be outdone, Boreal Mountain Resort opened up a snowboarding terrain park on July 10 and 11, in what they called a July Shred Fest. The terrain park was modest, but a Boreal employee told me that they were very busy this past weekend with plenty of die-hard snowboarders shredding the slush for bragging rights.
4Nugget #187 Boreal Shred Fest July 13
Here is the terrain park Boreal opened up for their July 10 & 11 "Shredfest" event. I got there too late to catch any riders snarking on the slush.

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