LAKE TAHOE, Nev. —With four days left to go in the month, Lake Tahoe has already broken the record for December snowfall set 50 years ago.

On Monday, December snow totals at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reached 193.7 inches, blowing a 1970 record of 179 inches out of the water.

Donner Pass’s lab received 39 inches of snow during the previous 24 hours. Today, it could exceed 200 inches.

U.S. built the lab in 1946. Weather Bureau, Army Corps of Engineers. It also maintains the oldest-running manual snow depth record in the world. This records goes back to 1879.

“This has been a very beneficial storm for the Sierra region,” said Dan McEvoy, regional climatologist for the Western Regional Climate Center.

The Lake Tahoe Basin is sitting around 200 percent of average for snow water equivalent – the amount of water that will be released from the snowpack when it melts – for this time of year.

McEvoy stated that the Basin has 60 percent of its maximum average snow water equivalent. This occurs in late March and early April. He said that the median peak is 27 inches and that 16.1 inches was recorded today.

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December’s storms came in “forming a right-side-up snowpack,” he said. The snow level dropped and temperatures were higher in earlier storms, which was wetter than those that occurred before.

“That’s good for both water content and avalanche concerns,” McEvoy said.

Even in dry conditions, it will keep the snowpack at area resorts intact.

“It’s been a pretty impressive December,” McEvoy said.

But, he cautioned, it’s possible for drought conditions to resume.  

“If I had to emphasize one point, it’s that the drought’s not over. We need the storms to continue through the winter.”

Reach Amy Alonzo at [email protected] 



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