Tahoe gets one-third April average in one snowstorm
April 7, 2003
For Lake Tahoe residents seeking a prolonged winter, this month got off to a roaring start — racking up one-third of the month’s average snowfall.
In the first five days of this month, the basin received 6 inches of snow — more than one-third of its 15.3-inch April average.
When the snow hit last week, longtime gardener Carolyn Meiers scrambled to pick her daffodils before they died.
“For too many years, I’ve been burned by them coming up and getting downtrodden by the snow. Mother Nature really zaps us once in a while,” said Meiers.
She recommends gardeners plant Shasta daisies, instead of tulips, because of their heartiness in the cold, wet Tahoe springs.
Ron Zehren at Zehren’s Nursery advises gardeners to wait to rake up the leaves and other debris that provide protective mulch.
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“People forget that spring can (be delayed) for a long time,” said Kelly Redmond of the Western Regional Climate Center. The climatologist cited the 75.5 inches of precipitation that inundated the basin in 1958.
“That was a major El Ni-o,” he said.
This winter, the region experienced a moderate El Ni-o, a tropical weather phenomenon that originates in the Pacific Ocean at the Equator off South America.
Although it traditionally brings more snowfall to the Sierra Nevada, El Ni-o does not guarantee heavy snow.
Another notable April was 1999, characterized by a La Ni-a, which brought 44 inches of moisture to the basin. A year later was an unprecedented April in which no snow was recorded, the Climate Center reported.
El Ni-o produced one of the wettest years recorded in the winter of 1982-83, the season marked by torrential rain, flooding and landslides. More than 50 inches of rain fell from July 1982 to June 1983 in the Tahoe basin.
The average for the period is 31.98 inches.
The weather forecast calls for a dry, warm spell throughout the week. But the National Weather Service predicts temperatures will plunge again, and snow showers are likely Saturday and Sunday.
Tahoe precipitation: April averages
Average for Lake Tahoe Basin: 15.3 inches
1958: 75.5 inches
1967: 62 inches
1975: 44 inches
1999: 42 inches
2001: 22.8 inches
2002: 18 inches
Average for Lake Tahoe Basin: 2.11 inches
1935: 8.25 inches
1948: 6.63 inches
1958: 6.36 inches
1963: 7.8 inches
1982: 6.71 inches
Source: Western Regional Climate Center