Snow a welcome sight to skiers, farmers |

Snow a welcome sight to skiers, farmers

Associated Press Writer

RENO ” Skiers and farmers rejoiced after another storm dropped more than 2 feet of snow in portions of the Sierra Nevada, but the range’s snowpack still is below average so far this winter.

The latest snowfall was just in time for the Presidents Day weekend, traditionally one of the busiest periods of the season for Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

Skiers and snowboarders packed the slopes Saturday after a string of storms left up to 6 feet of snow at Tahoe in the past week and the best ski conditions this year.

“I haven’t seen this many people with powder up to their waist in a very long time,” said Rachael Woods, spokeswoman for the Alpine Meadows resort just north of Tahoe. “Our parking lots are at capacity today.”

Her resort reported 27 inches of snow at its mid-mountain at 7,500 feet elevation over a 24-hour period ending Saturday morning.

While the recent storms have been good news for the region’s water outlook, they still aren’t enough to erase a dry January, said Dan Greenlee, a hydrologist with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Sierra would have to see snowfall of 185 percent of average for nearly two months in order to meet an average year’s snowpack, he said.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher to overcome the deficit,” Greenlee told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. “These storms are going to improve the snowpack numbers by a few percentage points, but we’re not in a situation that can be easily dug out of.”

The Sierra snowpack is a major source of water for farmers and residents in California and Nevada.

At a conference in Reno last month, experts offered a grim water outlook for Nevada and California, and warned that farmers can expect to receive less water than normal this year because of a drought.

In Nevada, the snowpack water content as of Saturday was running 71 percent for the date in the Carson River watershed, 68 percent in the Walker River basin, 67 percent in the Lake Tahoe basin and 61 percent in the Truckee River watershed.

Chains or snow tires were still required Saturday afternoon on two highways in Northern California: Highway 88 over Carson Pass and Highway 70 east of Quincy, Calif.

Similar controls were lifted earlier in the day on two other major trans-Sierra highways near Tahoe: Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and U.S. 50 over Echo Summit.

A winter storm watch has been posted for Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon around Tahoe, where more snow is expected.