Tahoe snowback makes a comeback | NevadaAppeal.com

Tahoe snowback makes a comeback

by Andy Bourelle

What a difference 24 days can make.

The snowpack in Lake Tahoe’s area of the Sierra Nevada is about 66 percent of its historical average for this time of year, California water officials said Friday. Even better, the average snowpack along U.S. Highway 50 south of Tahoe is 75 percent.

While in a typical year those numbers wouldn’t be good news, Tahoe’s snowpack was an abysmal 24 percent at the last official measurement, taken Jan. 4.

“It’s doing OK, except we just need more,” said Jeff Cohen, spokesman for the California Water Resources Department. “And it may happen. Who knows? It depends. The weather in the Sierra is tricky.

“We hope we’re headed toward a normal year again.”

The measurements Friday were the second of at least four monthly surveys that will happen this winter.

The 66 percent measurement, taken closest to Tahoe at a benchmark location near Echo Summit, had an average snow depth of 4 feet. The elevation there is 6,800 feet.

Almost no snow fell at Tahoe this winter until early January. A series of storms came through the area after that, dumping numerous feet of snow at high elevations and providing needed relief for snow-scarce area resorts.

Rain often came at lake level; however, enough of the white stuff fell to get other snow-dependent businesses up and running.

“Operationally, the last wave helped,” said Bill Chernock, vice president of Travel Systems Limited, which operates the Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center. “We are pretty much in full operation, although, as always, that can go away. We hope we’ll see more from this next series expected Sunday and Monday to lock us in for February.”

While the first and second snow surveys for the Echo Summit location this year have been 24 and 66 percent, respectively, the same measurements last year were 96 and 127 percent. The end-of-season average last year was 146 percent.