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Tahoe Nugget #200:

2011 Tahoe Winter Update
March 2, 2011

It's been one month since my last Tahoe Winter Update so here's the latest dope from the slopes. Skiing has been awesome with a deep snowpack and consistently good powder to packed powder surface conditions since storm activity resumed on Valentine's Day. Speaking for Squaw Valley where I have my pass, it rarely gets much better than this.

Nugget #200 CCC Crew Shovels  Museum
On March 1, a California Conservation Corps crew from Sacramento was brought in to shovel the roof of the museum at Donner State Memorial Park. The pedestal of the monument you see in the background is 22.5 feet high and purportedly represents the maximum snow depth from the winter of 1847 when the Donner Party was trapped here. My professional analysis however, suggests a peak depth closer to 17 feet, but I'm not one to quibble over a couple of yards of snow. Either way the hardy California-bound emigrants were overwhelmed by conditions.

Good news on the water front too. Results from the March 1 snow survey verified that the water content in California's mountain snowpack is still well above average despite a very dry January and first half of February. Recent storms contributed materially to our regional snowpack here in the Central Sierra and water content is currently running at 121 percent of normal for the date. We're still on target for a healthy runoff this spring.

Nugget #200 Carnelian Bay  3-1-11
Carnelian Bay is in the "banana belt" but we too are slowly getting buried this year.

Tahoe's major resorts are making headlines with epic conditions. Squaw Valley picked up 12.5 feet of snow in the last two weeks of February. Kirkwood has been buried with more than 43 feet so far this season, but the big winner is Alpine Meadows where the mid-mountain snowpack is 18 feet deep from an impressive 44 feet of snowfall to date.

Nugget #200 Tahoe View from  Lookout
A few days ago I went cross-country skiing near the California-Nevada border up to an old fire lookout. A steep but short climb that offers killer views.

An interesting anomaly has developed regarding this winter's storm pattern. Conventional wisdom and climatology associated with the La Nina event occurring in the Pacific Ocean would suggest drier than usual conditions in Southern California and wetter than average as you move toward the Oregon border. However, at this time everything is topsy-turvy with much of the southland much above average and from Tahoe north barely above normal. Anecdotally I remember a few years ago during an El Nino event when So Cal was expecting a wetter than average rainy season they actually experienced record dryness. Go figure.

Nugget #200 Lake Tahoe  Snowscape
Lake Tahoe is so beautiful that it makes endless snow shoveling palatable. Even so, next year I'm getting a snow blower so of course Murphy's Law suggests an extended drought is coming!

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