Winter Forecast and El Niño

Every time even a chance of snow flurries is predicted, our thoughts turn toward winter.

There’s a slight chance of flurries for this weekend, but looking long-term, the National Weather Climate Prediction Center calls for above normal precipitation for California and the Tahoe area this winter. It’s an El Niño year, and nobody really knows what that will ultimately mean for Lake Tahoe snowfall. There have been huge storms during an El Niño, and there have been very average winters. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA) is predicting wetter-than-average conditions.

“We expect El Niño to strengthen and persist through the winter months, providing clues as to what the weather will be like during the period,” says Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service.

More precipitation would be welcome, as Lake Tahoe’s elevation level is sitting firmly today below its natural rim at 6,222.94 feet. The natural rim is 6,223 feet, and during wet years, the lake can rise as much as six feet to it maximum level of 6228.1 feet. There’s always the bright side, however, beaches are currently big and wide!

And, hopefully, those beaches will soon be covered by snow. Squaw Valley USA is announcing on its web site that it hopes to open Nov. 21, before Thanksgiving. Our local ski resort, Diamond Peak, is looking at a Dec. 10 opening. Diamond Peak began snowmaking this week, you can check it out on youtube,

So, as usual this time of year, those who love Tahoe in the winter are in waiting mode. As Alpine Meadows Ski Resort says on its web site: Stay posted. It is an El Niño season, and anything can happen.

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