Outside, up here in beautiful South Lake Tahoe, a glance out the window shows snow, coming down with a firm level of commitment. Visibility is at least a couple hundred yards, so not white out or anything. Yet.
But the ALL IN CAPS weather advisory is saying things like:
HEAVY SNOW WILL CREATE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS, WITH TRAVEL BEING SEVERELY IMPACTED OVER THE SIERRA PASSES. SNOWFALL RATES WILL EXCEED 2 INCHES PER HOUR AT TIMES, PRODUCING WHITEOUT CONDITIONS OVER THE PASSES AND IN THE BACKCOUNTRY. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… AVOID TRAVEL TODAY THROUGH TUESDAY, YOU COULD BE STUCK IN YOUR VEHICLE FOR MANY HOURS. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL, PREPARE FOR LONG DELAYS AND CARRY AN EMERGENCY KIT WITH EXTRA FOOD, WATER AND CLOTHING. IF YOU STAY HOME, HAVE A BACKUP PLAN IN CASE OF POWER OUTAGES. &&
We were planning on going home tomorrow, but the only way to get there from here is over one of those Sierra passes they mention above. If we were in some sort of Polanski movie, deep, horrible psychological problems would force us to go north to the Donner pass on I-80, get stuck – and eat each other in a grim recapitulation of the inescapable past.
But let’s not go there. The pass on US 50, Echo Summit, is expecting up to 5′ of snow – right now, with chains, you can get the 20 miles or so from here to past there in a mere hour and a half.
**Mid-update Update**: Nope, they’ve stopped traffic while they take avalanche mitigation steps – doesn’t that sound charming? – up that stretch I mentioned yesterday that hugs the terrifying cliff. Good idea! The notion one could be swept over that cliff by tons of snow does not pleasant napping make.
I forgot I was with a bunch of people who are, at best, no more inured to these conditions than I am. Thus, the overall low level of concern lulled me – left to my own instincts, I’d have left yesterday given the information at hand. Now, the adults here are making contingency plans, as the landlady does expect us to leave tomorrow a.m. – which will be still in the major part of the storm, which means CalTrans may not be letting people through. The storm is scheduled to end – and we know how reliable these natural disasters tend to be – around 4 p.m. Tuesday, not at 4 a.m. as it was when we left to come up here. How was one to know forecasts could be so temperamental?
Anyway: Weather.com and other news sources have finally begun to use terms like ‘record setting’ and ‘all-time’ in regards to this winter’s precipitation. Certainly, the rain and snow in the Feather River drainage, which includes a huge chunk of the northern Sierra, is way ahead of the highest level for this point in the season, and pushing the all-time high for the season – which ends in September! Saw an ad today where one of the ski areas here was touting how they had ‘officially’ 500 inches – 41+ feet! -of snow, and it’s snowing there now.
If things were to continue according to an ‘average’ year from here on out, the Sierra would have 200%+ of its average season snowpack, Contra Costa County would (according to the Flood Control District’s gauges as discussed here) nearly 200% of its average rainfall. Southern California got epic rainfall in the last set of storms, and is getting more from this, and is way wetter than average. Even Death Valley got .65 inches this last round. Lake Manly, here we come!
Some shots from yesterday: