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Pacific Northwest Snowmageddon: Tahoe shatters 50-year December snowfall record with more than 16 feet of snow as brutal cold reaches US – State of emergency in Oregon

arctic cold record snow california
Arctic cold reaches Pacific Northwest; record snow in California Lake Tahoe

California’s ski resorts are digging out from under 5 to 9 feet of snow that has fallen over the last several days from a series of storms. And more snow is on the way.

A large dip, or trough, in the jet stream across the West is allowing frigid conditions and a relentless series of storms to bring record-breaking snowfall into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The snow has closed major interstates and even forced the shut down of several ski resorts.

According to the National Weather Service, between 6 and 9 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada Mountains since Wednesday. Northstar California Resort picked up 15 inches of new snow since Monday.

Some one-week snowfall totals may eclipse 10 feet as more storms bring additional rounds of snow through Wednesday.

At UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab, 202.1 inches have fallen in December, making it the snowiest such month on record there, and the third-snowiest month of all time.

The snow is good news for a state that entered the winter mired in drought, since winter snow cover is used for water resources during the dry season. While parts of the state are still designated as being in “exceptional” drought, the worst category on the scale, Northern California is seeing meaningful relief.

Road traffic is beginning to reopen in parts of the Sierras, but closures continued Tuesday morning for important routes, including across the California-Nevada border.

In addition to the snow, much of the West, including Seattle and Portland, Oregon, are experiencing unusually cold conditions, as an Arctic air mass seeps across the Canadian border. The Weather Service warned of the potential for hypothermia and frostbite in Seattle, where overnight lows have hovered near 20°F.

In Portland, even colder temperatures are expected again Tuesday night on the eastern side of the city, as air temperatures plummet in the Columbia River Gorge. Wind chills could hover close to 0°F, and there is a risk of pipes bursting in homes, the Weather Service warned.

However, the cold weather in the Pacific Northwest pales in comparison to the frigid conditions moving into Montana and the Dakotas. There, wind chills are expected to reach minus-50°F Tuesday night, with daytime high temperatures failing to rise above 0°F during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


Wind chills that low can cause frostbite on exposed skin within just a few minutes, the NWS warned.

The next few days will feature more of the same, with a cold, unsettled weather pattern in the West, and high avalanche danger in the Sierras. Frigid conditions will become firmly established in the northern Plains, and gradually shift southeastward into Minnesota, based on computer model projections.

The heart of the cold air lies to the north, across British Columbia, where some of the coldest conditions since the 1960s are occurring. Temperatures in many locations are not rising above the minus-teens Fahrenheit for daytime highs this week, an unusual occurrence for this province.

Record cold temperatures for British Columbia in Canada
Record cold temperatures for British Columbia in Canada. More here

British Columbia is in the running for the top spot in North America for extreme weather events in 2021, with a scorching heat wave and related wildfires last summer, devastating floods in the fall and now this once-in-a-generation cold snap. Lytton, B.C., reached 121°F on June 29 to set the country’s all-time record high, only to burn in a fire the next day.

Tahoe shatters 50-year December snowfall record

With four days left to go in the month, Tahoe has already broken the record for December snowfall set 50 years ago.

On Monday, December snow totals at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reached 193.7 inches, blowing a 1970 record of 179 inches out of the water.

Today, the lab, located at Donner Pass, has received roughly 23 inches of snow in the past 24 hours and broke the 200-inch mark, wit 202.

The lab was built in 1946 by the U.S. Weather Bureau and Army Corps of Engineers and maintains one of the longest-running manual snow depth records in the world, dating back to 1879.

This has been a very beneficial storm for the Sierra region,” said Dan McEvoy, regional climatologist for the Western Regional Climate Center.

The Lake Tahoe Basin is sitting around 200 percent of average for snow water equivalent – the amount of water that will be released from the snowpack when it melts – for this time of year.

And the Basin is sitting at 60 percent of its peak average snow water equivalent, which occurs around late March or early April, McEvoy said. The median peak average is 27 inches, and today 16.1 inches of snow water equivalent was measured, he said.

December’s storms came in “forming a right-side-up snowpack,” he said. Earlier storms were wetter with higher elevation snow, but then temperatures and snow levels dropped.

That’s good for both water content and avalanche concerns,” McEvoy said.

It will also help keep the snowpack for area ski resorts in good shape, even if the region runs into a dry spell.

It’s been a pretty impressive December,” McEvoy said.

But, he cautioned, it’s possible for drought conditions to resume.

If I had to emphasize one point, it’s that the drought’s not over. We need the storms to continue through the winter.

Chaos all along the Pacific Northwest

Snow showers began in the Northwest on Sunday from the Gulf of Alaska, dumping up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) across the Seattle area. Another storm dropped more snow in western Washington and Oregon late Monday and Tuesday.

The region continued to break daily cold records. The National Weather Service said the low was 17 degrees F (-8.3 C) in Seattle on Monday, breaking a record set in 1968. Bellingham, Washington, plunged to 7 F (-13.9 C) on Monday, tying a record set in 1968.

In Seattle, the city said garbage pickup was canceled for Tuesday, as side streets remained treacherous. And another round of snow was predicted for the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, areas on Thursday.

State officials in Oregon have declared an emergency. In Multnomah County — home to Portland — about a half dozen weather shelters were open. Seattle city leaders also opened at least six severe weather shelters and the mayor declared an emergency.

Warming shelters in Multnomah County were around 75% full on Monday night, with 339 people.

Hope you are fine! [Reno Gazette Journal, Axios, AP]

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  1. Stupid-headline-mageddon, idiot-editor-pocalypse.
    At the end of the day, having said that, jaw-dropping writer doubles down and skyrockets with spiraling internet jargon.

  2. Happy New Year!

    My prediction for 2022:

    This year will suck worse than 2021. Been that way forever. After six decades, nothing gets better. Only gets exponentially worse with each passing year. The only thing that could change this pattern is if Christ returns to earth. Otherwise, we’re fcked.

  3. While the climate alarmist falsely proclaimed we are going into Global warming or what is now called Climate change. The reality is the world is going into a Maunder Minimum. Look at the work from solar astronomer John Eddy and E.W. Maunder, an English and German scientist Gustav Spörer, notated the decrease in solar activity. They are real scientist, not the face science of Obama, AOC or Al Gore.

  4. All of this is just a NORMAL winter in Idaho, especially in the Northern Panhandle!
    We get feet of snow and temperatures below zero on a regular basis.
    Of course places like Portland and Seattle don’t experience these extremes.

  5. No drought propaganda in those areas will gain traction. Near Grand Canyon we have snow too. Been stacking logs this morning. Plenty of wind, and snow clouds inbound.