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10 Feet of Powder Coming to Tahoe — Forecasters Beg Skiers to Stay Home

The Sierra are expected to get slammed with record-breaking snowfall over the weekend, and the internet is blowing up over the hype.

the base gondola ascending up steep terrain at Palisades Tahoe ski resortA YouTube clip with a view of the KT-22 terrain; (screenshot/Palisades Tahoe)
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On Thursday, Feb. 28, an enormous Pacific storm front started passing over California’s Sierra Mountains and it has the internet in a tizzy. Blizzard conditions will continue through Sunday, March 2, dumping up to 10 feet of snow in some areas, according to local forecasters. It could be the biggest winter storm the Tahoe area has seen in years — possibly decades.

Following a rare blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Reno on Wednesday, the internet erupted over the oncoming weather. The prospect of 10 feet of fresh Pacific powder got skiers and riders excited for a potentially record-setting weekend. But ski resorts, weather pundits, and residents have a strong message for any hopeful weekend warriors: Stay home!

This storm will likely close Toahoe-area ski resorts and other businesses. It will also make travel extremely dangerous and even “impossible.”

“This will be a big storm,” Bryan Allegretto, Tahoe’s dedicated snow forecaster wrote in his daily Tahoe Open Snow post. “I wouldn’t try traveling through the mountains after Thursday morning until Sunday.”

Still, despite the grim warnings and imminent weather, there are people out there who won’t be turned away with words.

“Ignore this doomer wimp! Full send!” Reddit user cptninc wrote.

“‘Hey Google, directions to Tahoe’,” commented another user, EmmaTheHedgehog. “Thanks for the info. Going to be a mega day!”

‘A Different Kind of Storm’

Many of the comments on the internet are surely just people joking around or trolling. But there is a real fear that people will legitimately try and brave this storm to get to the slopes. That’s despite predictions that this storm will break multiple records for the Sierra, including one from 1989 when the mountains received 3.5 feet of snow in a single day.

In Allegretto’s Open Snow post from Wednesday, he referenced recent storm forecasts that had been overhyped by the media and NWS. He reiterated why people should trust them on this one.

“The one thing I’m worried about is that people have seen a lot of hype around a lot of storms this season from forecasters outside of the mountains that didn’t calculate in the southerly flows, splitting, and high snow levels, so people may not trust the hyped up forecasts for this storm and will try to travel through the Sierra,” he wrote. “But this is a different kind of storm and mountain forecasters agree.”

Two to 4 feet of snow are expected all along Tahoe’s shore. Between 5 and 10 feet are expected at the highest elevations. Not only that, but wind gusts above 100 mph will blast the Sierra ridgetops and mountain peaks, according to NWS. Roads will close and power outages are possible.

“It’s a very serious storm for us,” Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist at UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab, told NBC News. He added that, if anything, the snowfall predictions from the NWS are conservative.

The excitement surrounding this winter storm is intense. Reddit user DjangoPony84 summed it up ominously: “It feels like the build-up in the documentary about the avalanche at Alpine Meadows.”

Tahoe Resorts Expected to Open Minimally, If at All

When this much snow falls on a resort, it counterintuitively limits skiing. High winds can close lifts. Ski patrol has to mitigate avalanche danger before opening runs. Mountain ops have to dig lifts out before starting them. And parking lots might not be fully plowed or accessible.

Sierra at Tahoe has already announced that it is proactively closing all mountain operations on Friday ahead of the snowstorm. The X account Tahoe Daily Snow said it expects more resorts to follow suit. And outside of the resorts, extremely high avalanche danger should deter any sane skiers and riders from going off-piste.

Anyway, Allegretto points out, the Sierra might be largely inaccessible due to road conditions.

“The problem with powdery snow and strong winds is that the snow blows around easily creating big drifts and low visibility,” he wrote on Open Snow. “That combined with the heavy snowfall is why I would expect the highway to close at some point.”

The NWS blizzard warning was issued on Wednesday, and by 10 a.m. PST on Thursday, snow was already falling. Palisades Tahoe Mountain Ops posted to X, “Now snowing top to bottom at all locations. Whew.”

Now, only time will tell what the weekend holds in store for the Sierra and the people who live there.

To stay up to date on this storm, follow Tahoe Daily Snow on X, or check the NWS website.

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