TRUCKEE (CBS SF) — Winter weary Truckee residents braced for another day of snowfall Thursday as Mother Nature kept her icy grip on the Sierra Nevada and forced ski resort crews to dig out from as much as 12 feet of snow over the last week.
At Kirkwood Mountain crews were digging out a ski lift turnaround that was overwhelmed as the resort received 9 feet of snow over the last week while travel on the highway passes remained treacherous as a Fedex driver discovered on Thursday morning.
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A National Weather Service Winter Storm Warning remained in effect for the Tahoe area until 10 p.m. Thursday with as much as another foot or more of snow expected at the higher elevations. Chains were required on the mountain passes.
However with weather expected to clear by Friday, Ski resorts owners were expecting record Martin Luther King Day weekend crowds.
But they have a lot of cleanup and prep work ahead of them after a week of staggering snow totals of more than 12 feet in some areas. The National Weather Service in Sacramento reported as of Thursday morning Heavenly had received 20 inches in just the last 24 hours. Kirkwood, Northstar, Dodge Ridge, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Bear Valley Mountain had all received a foot or more.
Dan Lavely, who moved to Lake Tahoe in 1968 and now lives in Reno, had been looking forward to spending his days off Monday and Tuesday on the slopes of the Mount Rose ski resort southwest of Reno.
“In all my years, it’s so rare to have too much snow,” Lavely said in an interview Wednesday. “Having a season pass — you pretty much live for these conditions. You want 2 or 3 feet of fresh powder, and you want to go play in it.”
The National Weather Service in Reno said it’s the most snow to fall in the Sierra in six years.
As a result, 72 billion gallons of water has been added to Lake Tahoe since it reached its lowest point last year on Oct. 13. More than 39 billion gallons of that has come since Jan. 1, said Chad Blanchard, the federal water master in Reno.
“It’s an extreme amount of water we have seen,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The 39 billion gallons equates to more than 100,000 acre feet of water — enough to provide every household of four with a year’s supply of water in a city of 100,000. It has caused Tahoe’s water level to rise nearly a foot since Jan. 1.
Since Oct. 1 when the seasonal water year begins, Tahoe’s level has risen nearly 1.9 feet, something that typically takes an entire year to accomplish, Blanchard aid.
As of Tuesday, the Sierra snowpack in the Truckee River basin was up to 163 percent of normal.
Rain totals in the valleys have been just as impressive, accounting for a typical year’s worth of rain in less than two weeks in some areas.
A torrential downpour late Tuesday and early Wednesday dumped 2.25 inches of rain in southeast Reno. The National Weather Service says that area has received nearly 9 inches of rain the past week. That’s equal to the annual average at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
Gardnerville got another 1.4 inches of rain early Wednesday for a seven-day total of 8.5 inches. In California, rainfall the past five days totaled 6.5 inches at South Lake Tahoe and a whopping 14 inches at Plumas Eureka State Park near Plumas about 65 miles northwest of Reno, the weather service said.