It’s not that we want to be a buzzkill on all of this new snow. The fact that there has been about 7 feet of new snow in this storm cycle means that soon, more of the mountain may be open. The marketing department will want you to believe that somehow, you will still be able to find powder turns galore. Who hasn’t seen that Travis Ganong clip, shot before the run at Squaw opened to the public? Last week, they posted some amazing shots of powder in Upper Beaver, which has not been open to the public yet this season. They are also going to be opening Lakeview and Sherwood for the first time Saturday, conditions permitting. It will be so tempting to come to Tahoe…
But there’s two different advisories posted for this weekend in Tahoe. The first, a Winter Storm Watch, advertises the snow that will start falling Saturday morning. Snow levels will start low, making travel to Alpine Meadows difficult, with snow levels as low as 3500 feet. But they are expected to rapidly rise through the day. NOAA suggests that they will be at 8000 feet by the afternoon, which means that whatever powder there was early in the day will rapidly get hosed, literally.
The second advisory for the Tahoe area is a Flood Watch. The fortunate thing is that NOAA reduced amount of precipitation expected from biblical to just huge. Previously comparisons were made to the floods of 1997. Today’s expectations are that water levels will only rise to the levels we saw in 2005. Somewhere between 6 to 12 inches of rain is expected to 9500 feet on Sunday. If you’re a regular reader, you know that Alpine Meadows tends to come out at the top ends of these AR forecasts. It’s quite possible that all local mountains will be closed on Sunday.
Although you might expect that flooding is only a problem near the Truckee River, such is not the case. There is a lot of snow around from this last week. That means there’s piles of snow and snow berms everywhere. That stops water from flowing naturally where it wants to go. In these sorts of conditions, local roadways do become a complete nightmare, including Highway 89 and Highway 80. It is not going to be pleasant at all. Additionally, several neighborhoods have been experiencing power outages over the last few days, and that will likely continue.
Here’s the summary alert posted at Nixle by the Truckee Police Department today:
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Truckee area and a significant storm system is anticipated to last until Monday, January 9th. Moderate winds with 6-8 inches of precipitation are being forecasted at lake level with fluctuating rain levels possibly intensifying on Sunday. Residents and visitors are advised to be prepared for winter driving conditions and be aware of localized flooding on streets during the periods of heavy rain. Starting on Friday, January 6th, free sand bags will be available at Truckee Fire Station 92 located at 11473 Donner Pass Road as well as the Department of Public Works at 10969 Stevens Lane.
The current National Weather Service flow predictions for the Truckee River on Sunday and Monday are that the river will approach levels last seen on December 31, 2005. While those levels were extremely high, they did not result in damage to homes or roadways within the Town of Truckee. Similar to 2005, it is expected that some small streams and drainages in Town will overtop their banks, and that roadways will have significant standing or running water on their surfaces (particularly in areas where drainage is obstructed by snow). Homeowners whose properties sit on low ground or below street level should take precautionary measures such as moving personal property to higher ground, cleaning nearby street drains, sandbagging, and establishing drainage paths away from structures that sit in low lying areas. Town personnel will continue to monitor National Weather Service River Flow predictions for changes should they occur.
There will absolutely be better days for skiing and riding and vacationing in Tahoe as we progress into the winter season. More snow is in the forecast for much of next week and there’s still a long season ahead…do yourself a favor and schedule a Netflix or Hulu binge watching session this weekend.