Spring? Lake Tahoe Area Records Most Snow in 35 Years

March 30, 2006

An unending series of March snowstorms pasted the Sierra in white, with one Lake Tahoe ski resort reporting more snowfall than during any other month over the last 35 years.

Photo: Homes along Deer Creek Drive near Alpine Meadows ski resort are partially buried after a record one-month snowfall total was reached Tuesday evening. (Scott Sady/Reno Gazette-Journal)

At Alpine Meadows, the resort received more than 16 feet of snow at its base lodge since March 1. Midway up the mountain, more than 22 feet fell, resort representatives said Wednesday.

That's a record. It surpasses the previous high of 15.6 feet that fell at Alpine during the "Miracle March" of 1991.

"It's not often you see a mountain's visual appearance change this drastically, this fast," said Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachael Woods. "Because of the amount of snow that has fallen this March, it's really a different place than it was a month ago.

"It's hard to believe it's spring."

That's for sure, said Anthony Loverde, a resident of Tahoma on Lake Tahoe's west shore.

"It's been very wet, incredible," said Loverde, 27.

All the March snow has been great for Loverde's snow-removal business but he said enough is enough.

"I'm ready for summer, to be honest with you. I'm ready for sunshine," Loverde said.

Alpine Meadows received the most snowfall for a single month since resort operators started keeping records in 1970.

Other areas have seen much the same thing. At Tahoe City, nearly 6.8 feet of snow has fallen since March 1, making the month the fourth snowiest March since 1931. And there are still two days of the month left, with more snow likely Friday.

"There's been a huge increase. It's dramatically improved the snowpack," said Gary Barbato, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

The change was particularly remarkable in some lower elevations of the Sierra, Barbato said. At Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe, for example, the snowpack went from 39 percent of average on March 1 to 166 percent on Wednesday, Barbato said.

And while many folks might be hankering for warmth and sunshine, ski conditions at Alpine and other resorts are remarkable at a time of year many are offering special deals, Woods said.

"Conditions are mid-winter and it's a skier's market this month," Woods said.