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Lake Tahoe is officially buried in snow

January was a record-breaking month for snowfall

A ski shop at Sugar Bowl Resort on January 20, 2017.
Courtesy of Sugar Bowl Resort

Thanks to a series of atmospheric river storms that have pummeled California, the snowpack of Lake Tahoe is reaching record-breaking numbers. In early January, parts of California received over 28 inches of rain and up to 17 feet of snow, causing flooding, avalanches, and a major shift in the California drought monitor map.

But more storms followed, and in the past week Lake Tahoe saw another 8 feet of snow in just 5 days. Meteorologists at Open Snow say that at 7,000 feet in Lake Tahoe, 237 inches have fallen this month alone. That beats a 1973 record of 159 inches of snow that fell in January of that year. In total, the Lake Tahoe snowpack at 7,000 feet has received 80 percent of the seasonal average—and we’re only 43 percent of the way through the ski season. There’s even more snow at higher elevations.

For individual ski resorts, this ski season’s snow totals have been impressive. So far this winter, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe—with a base elevation of 8,260 feet—has received 461 inches of snow. On average, Mt. Rose receives about 350 inches each year.

At Heavenly Mountain Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, both ski areas recorded their snowiest January ever. And near Truckee, Northstar has received 283 inches of snow this month alone.

Workers shovel snow off of a building in Squaw Valley on January 12, 2017.
Courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

While the snow has been a boon in a state that has suffered a long-lasting drought, resorts have struggled to dig out and keep lifts running during severe storms. Now that the major storms have passed, huge machines are moving snow on Highway 50 to open up more lanes, and throughout Lake Tahoe, neighborhood streets are only wide enough for one car to pass. The snow has also caused avalanches on California State Highway 89 and in South Lake Tahoe, heavy snow collapsed the roof of a liquor store on January 23.

The Lake Tahoe-Reno school district has had to close schools 7 days already this winter, with many kids excited to ski. The only problem? On most of the snow days, blizzard conditions were so bad that the ski resorts weren’t operating. Lake Tahoe is officially buried.