Mild, Normal or Wild Weather?

March 7 2013, By , No Comments

First 2012 winter stormI feel that having lived in the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee area for over thirty years should give me some basic insights to what a normal winter looks like. Call it global warming, climate change or a rather abnormal winter, this one has me confounded.

Being that weather is one of those delightful conversations that does not bring with it the potential landmines of politics or religion; I wanted to share this brief story from a recent chat with a friend/client. He told me that the one publication that seemed to have nailed the forecasts for the West Coast this winter was the good, old, reliable Farmer’s Almanac. At the point of our discussion, he hadn’t heard what the Almanac’s prognostication was for this spring. I did some searching, the publication called for continued unsettled weather on the East Coast, then said: “But on the other side of the country, winter will continue its hiatus for another year. The forecast for west of the Continental Divide – the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Pacific Coast – calls for mild temperatures and below normal precipitation.” Quote from

The Tahoe Truckee mainstay Sierra Sun newspaper, recently confirmed a similar “below normal” precipitation forecast that came through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A lack of measurable snow fall in January and February put the Lake Tahoe area into the record books for lowest amount of precipitation during those two months in more than 100 years. The article, dated February 22, 2013 pointed to drought like conditions persisting for three months, with a warming trend into early March. In typical mountain weather fashion of unpredictability, the last week of February warmed enough that locals were donning shirt sleeves on the 28th.

Here it is March 6, I don’t know about you but here in Truckee, we are snowblowing about a foot of “warm, dry weather” out of our driveway. Since I feel like having seen so many winters here gives me some insight, my thoughts come back to an old local joke about how to forecast the weather in the Sierras. If there is a rock outside, you look at the rock, if it’s wet; it’s raining. If the rock has snow on it, it’s snowing. I surmise that when it comes to normal weather, there is really no such thing in the Tahoe or Truckee area.

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