Tahoe's Snowiest Winters

28th February, 2019

Lake Tahoe is the place to be this winter with some of the best snowpack in the United States. The February snow has transformed Lake Tahoe into a winter wonderland and the term “Februburied” has been coined for the record-breaking snow totals. Although February alone has brought almost 25 feet of snow it isn’t the biggest snow levels that Lake Tahoe has experienced. Let’s look at how some of the snowiest winters in Lake Tahoe measure up to this year’s snow-filled year.

Snow covered mountain

The Big Winter of 1906/07

The epic winter of 1906/1907 is debated as one of the snowiest on record in the Sierra Nevada. Strong storms from the Pacific buried elevations above 8,000 feet with a snowpack that typically averaged 30 feet deep. That year Tamarack in South Lake Tahoe received an astounding snowfall total of 884 inches, which is more than 73 feet. That epic winter was not entirely unexpected. On Dec. 14, 1906, the Reno Evening Gazette reported: “Weather Prophets in various sections of the country and Nevada have been foretelling a long, hard winter, beginning immediately after Thanksgiving.” True to predictions, heavy snow invaded the Sierra Nevada mountains on Nov. 21, 1906, the day before Thanksgiving. During that winter there was a storm so cold that affected all of California and drove temperatures down to freezing in Los Angeles and San Diego. In San Francisco, snow fell, and pond ice formed in Golden Gate Park.

vintage snow plow

Tahoe’s Roaring Winter of 1938

The winter of 1938 started off wet with high snow levels that left minimal snow in the mountains. But, by the end of January in 1938, a series of cold storms pummeled the area with 12 feet of snow in less than a week. That kicked off a series of storms hitting the Sierra Nevada mountains hard and fast, beginning a siege of extreme weather. There was so much snow that Tahoe City residents received 17 feet of new snow in 16 days. There were no mail deliveries to Tahoe City for more than a week, and fresh food deliveries along with all communication were cut off for two weeks. To make matters worse for Tahoe residents a barrage of intense cold storms dumped another 29 feet of snow in just 14 days. During that winter gullies and streams filled beyond capacity and rushing water west of the Sierra crest ripped out 180 feet of train track near Emigrant Gap, temporarily terminating train travel. By the end of that winter, 819 inches (68.3 feet) of snow was measured near Donner Pass and is still holds the title as the greatest seasonal snowfall ever recorded there.

Snowy roof

Winter of 2019

We have seen an impressive amount of snow this year thanks to some powerful storms. The month of February alone has produced record-breaking snow amounts at ski resorts around the Tahoe basin, Squaw Valley has notched its snowiest month on record with over 300 inches of snow on the upper mountain. Since February 1st, the fresh snow that landed on the surface of the Lake Tahoe has added 40 billion gallons of water and raised the water level a foot. Luckily, we exist during modern times, so we have huge snow plows and snowblowers to help keep the roads clear and businesses open. Based on the snow levels Lake Tahoe ski resorts are extending their closing dates, and one will be open until July 4th.

Lake Tahoe has seen some snow filled winters and this year is expected to be epic. There is still plenty of time left this winter and it’s exciting to see what this year’s final snowfall totals will be. Come to Lake Tahoe to experience this record-breaking snow for yourself with Hotel Azure’s complimentary snowshoes. Book online or contact our in-house reservation team at 1.800.877.1466