Lake Tahoe: Mt. Rose, Sugar Bowl in dead heat for race to 700 inches |

Lake Tahoe: Mt. Rose, Sugar Bowl in dead heat for race to 700 inches

Kevin MacMillan
A skier gets in a powder-laden run down Silverado on Feb. 24 at Squaw Valley ski resort.
Courtesy Sqauw Valley


Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: 680 inches

Sugar Bowl: 679 inches

Donner Ski Ranch: 670 inches

Squaw Valley: 623 inches

Boreal Mountain: 620 inches

Soda Springs: 620 inches

Alpine Meadows: 617 inches

Northstar California: 607 inches

Kirkwood Mountain: 601 inches

Heavenly Mountain: 600 inches

Sierra-at-Tahoe: 537 inches

Homewood Mountain: 525 inches

Tahoe Donner: 499 inches

Diamond Peak: 446 inches

Source: Numbers updated as of Tuesday morning at each resort’s website

*totals are for resorts’ upper mountain/high-elevation areas (above 8,000 feet)

TAHOE-TRUCKEE — The race is on to 700 inches of snow for Lake Tahoe, and it’s almost a dead heat between two of the region’s most iconic ski resorts — with a surprisingly (perhaps to some) much-smaller resort right on their tails.

As of Tuesday morning, after a few inches of snow fell Monday to wrap up the most recent winter storm that struck the region Saturday and caused traffic problems galore (amid the 3-4 feet of snow it dropped at upper elevations), Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is reporting a 2016-17 season total so far of 680 inches of snow.

Right behind Mt. Rose is Sugar Bowl Resort at Donner Summit in Norden, which is boasting a 679-inch season-to-date total of snowfall.

Of note, the small, family-owned Donner Ski Ranch — which, according to the resort located also in Norden, is closed Tuesday, March 7, so the crew can “dig out” — is reporting a season total of 670 inches.

Considering it’s only the first week of March, it appears to be only a matter of time before some of our resorts breach the 700-inch mark.

Historically, the average annual snowfall at upper elevations in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee region is 450 inches.

According to the National Weather Service in Reno, sunny skies and temperatures approaching the upper-40s are in the forecast for the next several days.

But, more moisture and snow could return next week, according to NWS.

“…Confidence is somewhat higher than usual for this far out,” according to a long-range forecast Tuesday morning from meteorologists who are eyeing a possible “large-scale trough over the northeast Pacific” that should begin to move toward Northern California by Tuesday, March 14. “… A more active pattern with periodic atmospheric river conditions is looking more likely for next week.”

Historically for the Lake Tahoe region, the winter season lasts well April, if not early May, meaning big snowstorms are still possible.

While it is too early for meteorologists to predict if or when this winter season will set all-time records, the amount of snowfall the Tahoe region’s ski resorts have reported so far (remember that these statistics are considered unofficial and non-scientific) suggests they’re on that trend.

For example, according to Squaw Valley’s snow tracker, the ski resort recorded a grand total of 810 inches of snow at 8,000 feet at the end of the 2010-11 season (which, by the way, ended after a 14-inch snowstorm on June 6, 2011).

To put that in perspective, as of Tuesday, March 7 — 3 full months prior to the “end” of the season 6 years ago — Squaw Valley has a cumulative total of 623 inches.

According to previous reports, the snowiest winter ever for the Truckee-Tahoe region was the 1937-38 season, when a record 819 inches (68.25 feet) of snow was recorded at Donner Pass, according to official statistics from Southern Pacific Railroad.

In terms of the top five snowiest winters, the most recent season is 1951-52, which ranks second all time.

However, if you expand the list to the Top 10, it includes the 1981-82 and the 1982-83 withers — and, yes, most recently the epic 2010-11 season — according to both official statistics from the railroad and Central Sierra Snow Laboratory.

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