The larges series of storms forecast for Northern California this week has delivered with heavy snowfall and rain throughout the region. Travel has been nearly impossible in high elevation areas and many locals are buried inside their homes. Let’s look at the numbers so far of this crazy storm.
The storm was especially strong in the mountains of Tahoe with some areas reporting 7 feet of new snow. The road closures have brought the region to a standstill. As of Sunday morning, Highways 50, 80, 49 and 88 all remain closed with extreme snowfall. Many ski resorts in Tahoe have also been closed throughout the storm.
Here are the current snowfall numbers as of Sunday morning:
- Palisades Tahoe – 74 inches
- Homewood – 75 inches
- Tahoe Donner – 76 inches
- Northstar – 82 inches
- Mt. Rose – 75 inches
- Diamond Peak – 68 inches
- Heavenly – 45 inches
- Kirkwood – 46 inches
- Mammoth Mountain – 80 inches
- Mt. Shasta Ski Park – 20 inches
The bets part? The snowfall is far from finished. The storm is expected to last through Monday with 1-3 feet of more snow. Some regions of the Sierra could end the storm with nearly 10 feet of new snow.
For anyone planning to travel during this storm, it’s best to just stay home. The South Lake Tahoe PD posted on social media on Christmas Eve to ask the public to stay home while they deal with serious traffic issues and a smaller staff. With the storm dumping multiple feet of snow on the mountains, skiers and snowboarders are creating a mess trying to get to ski resorts.
“Stay home if you can,” said South Lake Tahoe PD on Instagram. “Now is not the time to decide to go ski.”
They continued by emphasizing small staffs for public officials, including snow plowers, tow trucks and first responders. They have had major issues responding to more than 50 accidents on Christmas Eve alone. Due to the reckless driving witnessed on the roadways and the whiteout conditions, many roadways have simply been closed.
For the Tahoe region, this storm caps off what could possibly be the snowiest December ever. As of December 23, the mountains had received 94 inches of snow for the month. Since then, at least four feet of snow has fallen, bringing the total to approximately 140 inches this month. The record for most December snowfall in Tahoe is 179 inches from 1970.
Following a year of abysmal snowfall in the Sierra, Lake Tahoe reached its natural brim this summer, an indication of extreme drought in the region. After the drought plagued summer, scientists estimated the mountains would need a historic 800 inches of snow to bring the lake up to its regular water levels. Based on the December snowfall, it actually might be possible to reach that number.
That amount of snow is significant for December, but not for the area as a whole. In fact, Squaw Valley (now Palisades Tahoe) smashed their monthly record for snowfall in February 2019 with more than 300 inches. That same month, Homewood received 336 inches, or approximately a foot of snow a day for the entire month.