Latest measurement shows Sierra snowpack well below average

 

The fourth snow survey conducted by the Department of Water Resources at the Phillips Station snow course on Thursday showed that the snowpack is way below average.

The manual survey showed 49.5 inches in snow depth and snow water equivalent, or how much water is contained in the snowpack showed 21 inches. These measurements are 83% average for that location, but that’s not the trend for the rest of California and Nevada.

The electronic snow survey stations showed that overall in California the snow water equivalent is 16.5 inches, which is 59% of average.

“With below average precipitation statewide, California’s reservoirs continue to show the impacts due to dry conditions,” said Sean DeGuzman, chief of DWR’s snow surveys and water supply forecasting section who conducted the survey.

(From left) Anthony Burdock, Water Resources Engineer, Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section, California Department of Water Resources, and Sean de Guzman, DWR Chief of the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecast Section, conduct a 2021 snow survey at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on April 1. Provided / Florence Low of California Department of Water Resources

DeGuzman said that the fourth annual survey is the most important of the year in terms of water content because the April 1 survey is typically when California’s snowpack is the deepest and has the highest SWE.

This SWE metric is key for the department’s water supply forecast for the state as the snowpack melts.

While this location shows the snowpack is well below normal, it shows improvement from the prior year.

The Northern and Central Sierra fared better this year in terms of snowpack due to most of the storms coming from North. The storms that did hit the region brought more snow than rain.

“This year’s hydrologic picture is somewhat contradictory in that the Northern and Central Sierra Nevada watersheds have actually built up a decent, albeit below average snowpack. However, statewide rainfall has been well below average,” said DeGuzman. “This is somewhat of an anomaly at this course”

For water year 2021, the snowpack in the Northern and Central Sierra peaked at 70% of average, but rain is below 50% of average, which ties the record for the third driest year on record. The Sierra snowpack accounts for 30% of California’s fresh water supply in an average year.

The Northern Sierra remains well below average for both rain and snow. The most evident locations of this is at Lake Oroville where water levels are 53% of average and Lake Shasta where levels are 65% of average. Lake Shasta is the state’s largest surface water reservoir.

The total amount of water expected to enter California’s reservoirs when the snowpack melts is projected to be just 58% of average and the states major reservoirs are storing just about half of their overall capacity.

Last year, snowmelt was roughly 60% of average.

DeGuzman says that the biggest unknowns at this point are how dry the soils are under the snowpack and how much water will absorb into those soils before running off into rivers and streams.

“The next few weeks are critical to watch how much of that snow melt will actually enter into our reservoirs,” he said.

The department urges Californians to continue to conserve water.

“Water conservation is always way of life,” said DeGuzman.

The fifth snowpack survey is tentatively set for April 29.

Al Tahoe community gets Firewise certified

 

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Al Tahoe community in South Lake Tahoe had its Firewise USA application approved by the National Fire Protection Association.

The neighborhood joins the growing number of Firewise USA accredited organizations comprised of residents across the nation who are working to reduce wildfire risk.

“I am so proud of all of the team members and volunteers who met the challenges of this past year to complete the risk assessment application requirements. Because of their efforts, the Al Tahoe neighborhood will be better prepared for wildfires,” said Dianne Rees, team leader for the Al Tahoe Community Firewise Committee in a press release.

The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise USA program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent loss of property and life.

In order to receive designation as a Firewise Community, Al Tahoe completed a risk assessment of the homes and lots in the community, developed an action plan to address identified risks, and demonstrated education outreach in vegetation removal, with the support of South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue and Douglas County Fire District Zephyr Crew during their two day Clean-up Day event held last year.

This is the first community in the city limits to receive this certification.

For more information about the Firewise program, visit https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Firewise-USA.

Celebrate Easter Sunday festivities around Lake Tahoe

The birds are chirping, the sun is warming and the snow is melting. Spring is here and Easter is this Sunday.

Due to the pandemic, Easter Sunday might be a bit different then prior years but more festive events are here as restrictions loosen.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

Easter Egg Hunt at the Heavenly Village

The Shops at Heavenly Village will be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. for children ages 12 and under. Over 10,000 candy and toy-filled eggs will be hidden for kids to find including $1,000 in cash prize eggs. Certain eggs will also contain offerings from shops at the village.

The event will be held outdoors between Fire and Ice and Gunbarrel Tavern in the village. There are three hunt age categories to keep it fair. Age groups include those 5 and under, 6-8, and 9-12. During the hunt, the Easter Bunny will be on site for a meet and greet and there is a “Build a Bunny” section as well where kids can build a stuffed bunny for $15.

Don’t feel left out if you’re an adult, Fire and Ice is offering bottomless mimosas. The cost of the hunt is $5 per child. There are a limited number of tickets available. Proceeds of the hunt will be given to a local charity. To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavenly-village-easter-egg-hunt-tickets-141172295135.

Get artsy

Bring art into your Easter Sunday plans. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, the Tahoe Art League will host their Spring Show.

Tahoe Art League Members will be showing off their talent during the “Spring Forward” spring exhibit.

For more information, visit www.talart.org or call 530-544-2313.

Make the day sweet

Sugar Pine Bakery’s cookie DIY Easter Kits are back for another year. These festive kits are stocked with 10 sugar cookies, four bags of royal icing, and four cups of sprinkles. Cookie kits are $20.

Sugar Pine is taking DIY Easter Kit orders until April 4. To order yours, call 530-542-7000 or email sugarpinebakery8@gmail.com.

Easter will also be taking over Crazy Good Bakery with festive cupcakes, cookies and treats.

Crazy Good Bakery will be crafting festive treats for Easter this Sunday.
Crazy Good Bakery.

Experience magic at The Loft

Instead of the traditional Easter celebration, take the family to The Loft located in the Heavenly Village to bring some magic into the special day.

On Easter Sunday, there will be three different times in the evening to catch one of The Loft’s one of a kind magic and illusion shows performed by Robert Hall.

The Loft serves American tapas crafted from the culinary expert, Frank Trotta. Book tickets early because seats fill up due to limited seating. For more information visit thelofttahoe.com.

Treat yourself to dinner at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Spend Easter Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. There will be special menus at Park Prime and Alpine Union Bar and Kitchen this Sunday.

Park Prime is offering a three-course meal for $95 per person. Start with a choice of French onion soup or a wedge salad, followed by prime filet with a half-pound of colossal Alaskan king crab. To really get in the Easter spirit, end the meal with a Bananas Foster. The regular menu will also be available. Park Prime will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. on Easter Sunday.

Alpine Union is also offering a special menu for Easter that will be available for $35 per person. Start off by choosing either a spring vegetable soup or Alpine Easter Salad. For the main course, they will be serving up a ham steak with honey Dijon glaze, served with au-gratin potatoes and asparagus. A delectable strawberry shortcake is on the menu for dessert. The Easter menu at Alpine Union will be available starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Per the state of Nevada guidelines, parties are limited to no more than six people. For more information and to make reservations, visit hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com/dining-restaurants/.

NORTH LAKE TAHOE

Bunny Trail Community Egg Hunt

On Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, the Championship Golf Course in Incline Village is hosting a Bunny Trail Community Egg Hunt for residents of the village and Crystal Bay. The hunt is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Take a stroll down Bunny Trail while searching for festive eggs and photo ops. The event is open to the whole family and will be a one-way, walk-through trail.

Guests will move through the event in timed intervals to snatch eggs at each hunt station. Face coverings are required. To reserve your spot, call 775-832-1310.

Celebrate Easter Sunday festivities around Lake Tahoe

The birds are chirping, the sun is warming and the snow is melting. Spring is here and Easter is this Sunday.

Due to the pandemic, Easter Sunday might be a bit different then prior years but more festive events are here as restrictions loosen.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

Easter Egg Hunt at the Heavenly Village

The Shops at Heavenly Village will be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. for children ages 12 and under. Over 10,000 candy and toy-filled eggs will be hidden for kids to find including $1,000 in cash prize eggs. Certain eggs will also contain offerings from shops at the village.

The event will be held outdoors between Fire and Ice and Gunbarrel Tavern in the village. There are three hunt age categories to keep it fair. Age groups include those 5 and under, 6-8, and 9-12. During the hunt, the Easter Bunny will be on site for a meet and greet and there is a “Build a Bunny” section as well where kids can build a stuffed bunny for $15.

Don’t feel left out if you’re an adult, Fire and Ice is offering bottomless mimosas. The cost of the hunt is $5 per child. There are a limited number of tickets available. Proceeds of the hunt will be given to a local charity. To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavenly-village-easter-egg-hunt-tickets-141172295135.

Get artsy

Bring art into your Easter Sunday plans. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, the Tahoe Art League will host their Spring Show.

Tahoe Art League Members will be showing off their talent during the “Spring Forward” spring exhibit.

For more information, visit www.talart.org or call 530-544-2313.

Make the day sweet

Sugar Pine Bakery’s cookie DIY Easter Kits are back for another year. These festive kits are stocked with 10 sugar cookies, four bags of royal icing, and four cups of sprinkles. Cookie kits are $20.

Sugar Pine is taking DIY Easter Kit orders until April 4. To order yours, call 530-542-7000 or email sugarpinebakery8@gmail.com.

Easter will also be taking over Crazy Good Bakery with festive cupcakes, cookies and treats.

Crazy Good Bakery will be crafting festive treats for Easter this Sunday.
Crazy Good Bakery.

Experience magic at The Loft

Instead of the traditional Easter celebration, take the family to The Loft located in the Heavenly Village to bring some magic into the special day.

On Easter Sunday, there will be three different times in the evening to catch one of The Loft’s one of a kind magic and illusion shows performed by Robert Hall.

The Loft serves American tapas crafted from the culinary expert, Frank Trotta. Book tickets early because seats fill up due to limited seating. For more information visit thelofttahoe.com.

Treat yourself to dinner at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Spend Easter Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. There will be special menus at Park Prime and Alpine Union Bar and Kitchen this Sunday.

Park Prime is offering a three-course meal for $95 per person. Start with a choice of French onion soup or a wedge salad, followed by prime filet with a half-pound of colossal Alaskan king crab. To really get in the Easter spirit, end the meal with a Bananas Foster. The regular menu will also be available. Park Prime will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. on Easter Sunday.

Alpine Union is also offering a special menu for Easter that will be available for $35 per person. Start off by choosing either a spring vegetable soup or Alpine Easter Salad. For the main course, they will be serving up a ham steak with honey Dijon glaze, served with au-gratin potatoes and asparagus. A delectable strawberry shortcake is on the menu for dessert. The Easter menu at Alpine Union will be available starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Per the state of Nevada guidelines, parties are limited to no more than six people. For more information and to make reservations, visit hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com/dining-restaurants/.

NORTH LAKE TAHOE

Bunny Trail Community Egg Hunt

On Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, the Championship Golf Course in Incline Village is hosting a Bunny Trail Community Egg Hunt for residents of the village and Crystal Bay. The hunt is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Take a stroll down Bunny Trail while searching for festive eggs and photo ops. The event is open to the whole family and will be a one-way, walk-through trail.

Guests will move through the event in timed intervals to snatch eggs at each hunt station. Face coverings are required. To reserve your spot, call 775-832-1310.

Bears found with neurological disorders stump researchers

In 2019, a young bear at Northstar California was found fearlessly approaching visitors, acting very “dog-like” and even stepped on the snowboard and curiously sniffed the snowboarder who was filming it on social media.

The bear, who had a prominent head tilt, was very friendly towards people and after being picked up by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, was sent in for CT scans and treated for neurological abnormalities.

The bear’s name, Benji, now resides at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Campus, but other bears around the state have been found with similar abnormalities.

Ann Bryant, of the Bear League, says that about five years ago she found a few bears with similar abnormal characteristics to Benji. She remembers one bear that walked right up to a construction site and was approaching workers being curiously friendly, like a dog would and was strangely almost afraid of food. This bear also had a prominent head tilt and vacant stare, and was just not all there said Bryant.

One female bear that was taken in by CDFW was covered in ticks, undersized, severely underweight, had tremors and head tilt. The bear was euthanized and with post-mortem examination underway, preliminary results have shown encephalitis which is swelling of the brain. Another bear from Humboldt County with symptoms was euthanized and confirmed to have encephalitis as well.

A young black bear showing neurological abnormalities, undergoes a CT scan at UC Davis in 2019. Provided / CDFW / Kirsten Macintyre.

When these bears are found they usually are too young to be on their own, have a pronounced head tilt, tremors, exude “dog-like” personalities, are overly-friendly, malnourished and seem not physically or mentally right. The Nevada Department of Wildlife first encountered this phenomenon in 2014 and alerted wildlife colleagues.

“What brought this current condition to light is a pattern,” said Jamie Sherman, a veterinarian at UC Davis’ One Health Institute who has studied black bear diseases.

This pattern is prompting the next steps of research and she says that encephalitis is causing the neurological abnormalities, but the root cause is still unknown.

“The more we investigate, the more confounding it becomes,” said CDFW public information officer Peter Tira. “This presents multiple challenges, we are very concerned.”

Tira said that findings have not been confined to a specific geographic region either.

During CDFW’s early research they found five new unidentified viruses, but don’t know the what or if there is a relationship to them and this condition.

CDFW and Bryant have dealt with several bears exuding similar abnormalities which have turned out to be encephalitis. Encephalitis can only be accurately determined with a necropsy after the bear has been euthanized, but bears with encephalitis are unable to live in the wild without veterinarian assistance.

“They have this vacant, glazed over look,” she said.

Bryant has hands-on worked with five of these bears with this condition.

“My concern is bears are going to be killed,” she said.

This time of year, yearlings are coming out of hibernation. These yearlings are also very friendly and approach people as they cope with separating from their mothers.

“That behavior is normal for yearlings and dispersing juveniles,” she said.

Bryant said those with a trained eye can know the difference from a friendly yearling and a bear with encephalitis. She said they have already been getting calls the last 25 years for normal, healthy yearlings who are naturally friendly.

While research is still being conducted, Bryant theorizes that this disease could be from ticks.

Bryant does not want the community to be alarmed and says that this disease is still pretty rare. Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is aware of the disease, but have not treated any at their facility.

Denise Upton, Animal Care Director at LTWC says that the general public might not know what to look for because habitualized bears and bears that have been hit by cars can also have similar questions. However, if someone is concerned, be sure to call.

If you see a bear behaving oddly, call Bear League 530-525-7297 or LTWC at 530-577-2273.