• #268 SQUAW VALLEY AVALANCHES

    TAHOE NUGGET #268: SQUAW VALLEY AVALANCHES Heavy rain and snow in the past week has not mitigated the extreme drought conditions in northern California, but it pumped up Lake Tahoe’s low water levels and gave a much needed boost to Tahoe ski resorts that had been limping along on life support. Commonly known as a “Pineapple Express” storm, the National Weather Service now refers to them as “atmospheric river events” when describing a subtropical moisture surge from the Pacific Ocean. These ...

  • #267 TAHOE-SIERRA DROUGHT

    TAHOE NUGGET #267: TAHOE-SIERRA DROUGHT The first significant winter storm in nearly 2 months delivered heavy rain to the Tahoe-Sierra on Thursday followed by lowering snow levels over the past 24 hours. Considering rainfall plus the new snow’s liquid content, nearly 3 inches of water drenched the high country near the Sierra Crest. Some locations on the West Slope picked up more than 5 inches or rain.

  • TAHOE NUGGET #266: BILL KLEIN: A SKIER'S FAREWELL

    TAHOE NUGGET #266: BILL KLEIN: A SKIER’S FAREWELL When 19-year-old Wilhelm “Bill” Klein first arrived on Donner Summit in the fall of 1936, he looked around and wondered, “Where are the mountains?” Bill and his older brother Fred, both Austrian-born ski instructors, didn’t see any towering mountains with summer snowfields like they were used to. Bill couldn’t fathom where it would be possible to ski amongst the jagged volcanic cliffs and bulky granite features that comprise much of the Summit’s ...

  • #265 GEORGE STEWART’S WEATHER NOVEL: "STORM"

    TAHOE NUGGET #265: GEORGE STEWART’S WEATHER NOVEL: STORM In the early 1990s while going to school at the University of Nevada in Reno, I had a conversation with John James, an associate geography professor at UNR, the Nevada State Climatologist, and my academic advisor. I told him that I wanted to produce a book on the weather history of the Sierra Nevada. He said that it was a great idea, it would be an important contribution to regional meteorology and climatology, and that he wished he had do...

  • #264 FRANK SINATRA'S TAHOE BLUES

    TAHOE NUGGET #264: FRANK SINATRA’S TAHOE BLUES It’s been 50 years since Frank Sinatra was forced out of his ownership of the North Shore’s Cal-Neva Casino in late 1963, but that wasn’t the legendary crooner’s only problem in his troubled years at Lake Tahoe. Old Blue Eyes’ questionable relationships with criminals, politicians, and celebrities made for some rough sailing during his reign at Tahoe. Frank Sinatra was a major partner at the Cal-Neva Lodge from 1960 to 1963.

  • #263: OWENS GOLD & TAHOE WHITE

    TAHOE NUGGET #263: OWENS VALLEY GOLD & TAHOE WHITE: PHOTO ESSAY: Last week I spent three days exploring the Owens Valley region and the majestic Eastern Sierra Front. The area had yet to experience a winter storm so the aspen and cottonwood trees below elevation 8,000 feet were offering great displays of autumn color. On the afternoon of Day #2 I drove 15 miles out toward Death Valley on a closed mountain road where I saw just 4 cars in 3 hours.

  • #262 TAHOE SUMMER SNAPSHOTS

    TAHOE NUGGET #262: TAHOE SUMMER SNAPSHOTS A flood of editorial deadlines has kept me office-bound for much of the summer, but I did get out and about a few times so I've posted a short essay to share a bit of what's been going on at Lake Tahoe. The region has been enduring periods of smoke and haze for nearly a month due to two large California fires that ignited in early August. The Tahoe Basin and western Nevada communities of Carson City and Reno are all located ...

  • #261 THUNDERBIRD LODGE: TAHOE’S UNIQUE ESTATE

    TAHOE NUGGET #261: THUNDERBIRD LODGE: TAHOE’S UNIQUE ESTATE This weekend I was invited by members of the Tahoe Rotary Yacht Club to join them for a dinner and tour at the legendary Thunderbird Lodge on Lake Tahoe’s east shore. Docents led us through the labyrinth that was the estate of enigmatic gambling playboy George Whittell and shared stories of the wild and crazy life of this Tahoe millionaire. Born in San Francisco on September 28, 1881, George and his twin brother Nicholas were the only c...

  • #260 HAWAI'I: BIG ISLAND ADVENTURE

    TAHOE NUGGET #260: HAWAI’I: BIG ISLAND ADVENTURE!   My wife Nora and I recently returned from a “honeymoon” trip to the Gold Coast of Kona, Hawaii — 7 years after our wedding. We had a wonderful time and Nora finally got to swim in a warm ocean and experience the joys of snorkeling. We’re definitely going back to the Big Island next year.

  • #259 COLLAPSE OF BLYTH ARENA

    TAHOE NUGGET #259 COLLAPSE OF SQUAW VALLEY’S BLYTH ARENA    Among some longtime locals, the collapse of Squaw Valley’s Blyth Arena on March 29, 1983, is a legendary tale of conspiracy, mystery, and subterfuge. Even after 30 years, unsubstantiated rumors still persist that the structure, completed in 1959 for the 1960 Winter Olympics, was purposely destroyed to expand parking at the famed resort. Analysis by engineers and Squaw Valley management determined the likely cause to be inadequ...

  • #258 CATS THAT RUN ON SNOW

    TAHOE NUGGET #258: CATS THAT RUN ON SNOW Over-snow vehicles are ubiquitous today in Tahoe’s mountain country. They range from high powered “sleds” as modern snowmobiles are commonly called, that scream up the steepest slopes to the super expensive and sophisticated snow cats that can level moguls and groom a resort’s snow surface into ribbons of smooth corduroy. Outfitted with specially designed implements, modern snow cats enable operators to trick out perfectly formed half pipes and other arti...

  • TAHOE NUGGET #257: 1983 —THE BIG ONE!

    TAHOE NUGGET #257 30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIG ONE (1983) This winter started off at a blistering pace precipitation-wise, but then after the Christmas holidays the spigot turned off and we just set a new all-time record for the least amount of precipitation for the first two months in the calendar year.  Average precipitation for the months of January and February—normally two of the wettest months of the year with a combined average of more than 17 inches of water—was just 2.2 inches. At T...

  • #256 TRUCKEE SLED DOG RACING

    TAHOE NUGGET #256 TRUCKEE SLED DOG RACING The Central Sierra’s first sled dog race in 16 years, slated for March 2-3 during the upcoming Snowfest celebration, was recently cancelled due to poor snow conditions at the Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort near Donner Pass. The Truckee-Tahoe area hasn’t had a significant snowstorm since the Christmas holidays nearly two months ago. Fortunately resorts are still sitting on a solid snowpack due to cold temps this winter and skiing and riding has been...

  • #255 TAHOE'S SNOWIEST WINTER (1938)

    TAHOE NUGGET #255: TAHOE’S SNOWIEST WINTER (1938) It’s been 75 years since the Tahoe-Truckee region was crushed under nearly 70 feet of snow in 1938. And similar to this winter, that epic season started off with a very wet fall, followed by a bone dry January. But the Storm King roared back after that and never let up until setting a snowfall record on Donner Pass that still stands today.

  • #254 BIG WINTER ON A ROLL!

    TAHOE NUGGET #254: BIG WINTER ON A ROLL! Winter 2013 has come out of the gate fast and furious and snow sports enthusiasts are loving the abundant fresh powder during this holiday period. Tahoe-Truckee resorts and businesses are reaping the economic benefits derived from a solid early season snowpack that draws visitors.

  • #253 TAHOE'S OLYMPIC BID REJECTED

    TAHOE NUGGET #253: TAHOE’S OLYMPIC BID REJECTED The weather has been quite cold and unsettled this week with frequent, but generally modest snowstorms dropping powder on Tahoe resorts. Snow quality has been excellent since that big rain event a couple of weeks ago and ski conditions are outstanding with fluffy skier-packed powder and corduroy groomers. Two potent storms expected next week may add several more feet to the substantial early season snowpack. Skiing and snowboard...

  • #252 TAHOE SURVIVES PACIFIC STORMS—BARELY!

    TAHOE NUGGET #252: TAHOE SURVIVES PACIFIC STORMS—BARELY! SYNOPTIC SET UP: A “mother ship” of low pressure that originated in the Gulf of Alaska remained stationary off the Pacific Northwest coast as it shunted slugs of deep tropical moisture into northern California over the course of five days, from Nov. 28 to Dec.

  • #251 CALIFORNIA 2012 SUPERSTORM

    TAHOE NUGGET #251: CALIFORNIA’S 2012 SUPERSTORM California’s version of a Pacific-bred “superstorm” is currently pounding the central and northern portions of the State with damaging wind gusts and torrential rain that’s generating urban and small stream flooding. Thousands are already without power in the San Francisco Bay Area and the strongest, most potent of three storm surges is still more than 24 hours away. This graphic depicts jet stream position with core wind speeds exceeding 140 ...

  • #250 HERMIT OF EMERALD BAY

    TAHOE NUGGET #250: HERMIT OF EMERALD BAY Near South Lake Tahoe is a spectacular, glacially-carved basin known as Desolation Wilderness. Towering above the shattered cliffs and glacial debris looms Dick’s Peak, elevation 9,974 feet, standing stoic and solitary in this region of rugged extremes. The obdurate mountain is a fitting monument to Captain Richard Barter, a man whose remarkable feats of survival have withstood the test of time.

  • #249 OCTOBER STORMS & 1993 DROUGHT BUSTER!

    TAHOE NUGGET #249: OCTOBER STORMS & 1993 DROUGHT BUSTER! As I sit here writing this the snow continues to fall outside my office window in Carnelian Bay. This week’s impressive 3-day snowstorm isn’t a record breaker for the month of October, but frigid temperatures brought enough of the white stuff to Truckee and the Tahoe Basin that schools closed and traffic got snarled over Donner Pass.

  • MICKEY DANIELS: TAHOE FISH HUNTER

    TAHOE NUGGET #248: MICKEY DANIELS: TAHOE FISH HUNTER Mickey Daniels is a funny guy who loves practical jokes, but when it comes to catching fish in Lake Tahoe, he’s all business. As skipper of Big Mack II, a 43-foot-long fishing boat designed and equipped specifically for Tahoe, Mickey spends most mornings trolling the depths searching for trophy-size trout and the beefy Mackinaws that make his clients smile and come back for more. Mickey Daniels is a master guide, a passionate, knowledgeable fi...

  • #247 SALACIOUS LUCKY BALDWIN

    TAHOE NUGGET #247: SALACIOUS LUCKY BALDWIN Following the warmest August on record in Reno, Nevada, September 2012 also went down as the toastiest in the Biggest Little City since 1888, with an average temperature more than 5 degrees above normal. Sacramento set a new Sept. record with 26 days at or exceeding 90 degrees.

  • #246 TAHOE'S PONDEROSA RANCH

    TAHOE NUGGET #246: TAHOE’S PONDEROSA RANCH It’s been nearly eight years now since visitors to Lake Tahoe could treat their imagination with a visit to the legendary Ponderosa Ranch in Incline Village, Nevada. The popular western theme park, where some scenes from the television series Bonanza were filmed, closed in September 2004 after it was purchased by David Duffield, the wealthy founder of the software company PeopleSoft. The loss of the Ponderosa Ranch, among northern Nevada’s most popular ...

  • #245 TAHOE'S BEAR FACTS

    TAHOE NUGGET #245: TAHOE'S BEAR FACTS On July 29, 2012, an angry lakefront property owner allegedly shot and killed a well-known bear named "Sunny" on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore. Sunny, the unofficial mascot of the Tahoe BEAR League, a bear advocacy group, was shot in the back after wandering onto a property to get food from a cooler left outside on a porch. "Sunny" was a friendly, mellow bear that enjoyed daytime strolls (hence her name).

  • #244 HARRY JOHANSON: LEGENDARY TAHOE LAWMAN

    TAHOE NUGGET #244: HARRY JOHANSON: LEGENDARY TAHOE LAWMAN It was a sad day for the small community of Tahoe City in the spring of 1932. Citizens dressed in black were in the process of burying the town’s first constable, the revered pioneer Robert Montgomery Watson. Watson had arrived at Lake Tahoe in the 1870s and was appointed Tahoe City’s first constable in 1906.

  • #243 SQUAW VALLEY TRAM: A RIDE INTO HISTORY

    TAHOE NUGGET #243: SQUAW VALLEY TRAM: A RIDE INTO HISTORY The aerial tram at Squaw Valley will lift you effortlessly up into the Sierra high country, where ice-carved cirques, extruded thrusts of volcanic rock, and stellar views of Big Blue will take your breath away. Squaw Valley's aerial tram whisks passengers up to elevation 8,200 feet, where an array of fun activities await summer guests. A bonus this year is that the rides are free for anyone holding an active 2012-13 season ski pass at Squ...

  • #242 FATE OF LANSFORD HASTINGS & BRAZIL

    TAHOE NUGGET #242: FATE OF LANSFORD HASTINGS & BRAZIL If you ever hear about Portuguese-speaking Brazilians dressing up in American Confederate uniforms, waving the Rebel flag, wearing Southern-belle skirts, and playing the banjo at a Fourth of July barbecue, one of the people you can blame is Lansford W. Hastings. Anyone familiar with the Donner Party story will remember Hastings.

  • #241 DONNER PASS 20 MILE MUSEUM

    NUGGET #241: DONNER PASS 20 MILE MUSEUM Tahoe’s summer weather is so beautiful why would anyone want to spend one of their precious days at a museum? Well, Norm Sayler, president of the Donner Summit Historical Society, is out to show people that his Society’s “20 Mile Museum” concept is one of the most rewarding outdoor experiences in the region. Blessed with accessible terrain and unique geologic and transportation features, visitors of all ages can interact firsthand with the kind of Ame...

  • #240 BIKE TAHOE FLUME TRAIL!

    TAHOE NUGGET #240: BIKE THE TAHOE FLUME TRAIL! It’s official. Lake Tahoe’s spectacular flume trail is open for mountain bike enthusiasts.

  • #239 CALIFORNIA-NEVADA BORDER WAR

    TAHOE NUGGET #239: CALIFORNIA-NEVADA BORDER WAR After the United States’ victory in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), both countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo giving the U.S. more than half of Mexico’s original sovereign territory. U.S.

  • #238 TAHOE: WHAT'S IN A NAME?

    TAHOE NUGGET #238: LAKE TAHOE: WHAT’S IN A NAME? For generations, Lake Tahoe has inspired untold numbers of people fortunate enough to view its pristine waters and forest-cloaked mountains. For countless summers, American Indians of the Washoe, Maidu, and Paiute tribes foraged, fished and hunted the region’s natural bounty.

  • #237 HANGING OF LUCKY BILL

    TAHOE NUGGET #237: THE HANGING OF LUCKY BILL Fate had been kind to William J. Thorington. Although a short attention span had hindered his formal education in New York, young Bill was smart enough to join the thousands of Forty-Niners rushing to the California gold strike.

  • #236 CLIMATE CHANGE & SNOWPACK DEPLETION

    TAHOE NUGGET #236: CLIMATE CHANGE & SNOWPACK DEPLETION In response to a provocative prediction for accelerated California climate change that I read in the Sacramento Bee newspaper last week, I felt compelled to contribute the following blog to the dialogue. Warnings about regional climate change were kicked up a notch earlier this month with the recently released report by Robert Shibatani, a Sacramento-based hydrologist who is also CEO of The Shibatani Group Inc. This new analysis off...

  • #235 2012 TAHOE WINTER WRAP UP

    TAHOE NUGGET #235: 2012 WINTER WRAP UP The 2012 water year for the Sierra Nevada won’t officially end until September 30, but for all intents and purposes Tahoe’s lackluster winter is over. It should be no surprise by now that precipitation last season was significantly below normal. After this early season snowstorm blanketed the Central Sierra on Oct.

  • #234 TAKING CALIFORNIA'S TEMPERATURE

    TAHOE NUGGET #234: TAKING CALIFORNIA’S TEMPERATURE Working as a forecaster for the National Weather Service is not a job for the meek, especially if your zone of responsibility includes a region like the volatile Central Sierra. But there have never been so many tools in the arsenal of a professional meteorologist: satellites, buoys, radar, and complex computer modeling all feed into the mix before forecasts are issued. When predicting high and low temperatures days in advance, weather prof...

  • #233 WEATHER MODIFICATION: SCIENCE OR SNAKE OIL?

    TAHOE NUGGET #233: WEATHER MODIFICATION: SCIENCE OR SNAKE OIL? Remember this past winter when instead of enjoying winter sports, people were riding bicycles and hiking well into the 2012 ski season? How different it would have been for the regional economy if we could have managed to temporarily change the stubborn dry weather pattern from calm to stormy.

  • #232 ESPY: THE ORIGINAL STORM KING

    TAHOE NUGGET #232: JAMES P. ESPY: THE ORIGINAL STORM KING I first came across the Storm King moniker in the 1980s while researching 19th century newspapers for information on Sierra winter storms. In the late 1800s it was common for editors to capture the reader’s attention with headlines like “Railroad Battles Storm King.” The Storm King headline would be followed by a riveting account of heroic railroad crews fighting against the violent Storm King, who wielded weapons of heavy snow, deadly av...

  • #231 HATFIELD THE RAINMAKER

    TAHOE NUGGET #231: HATFIELD THE RAINMAKER This March, Lake Tahoe finally had a decent month of rain and snow worthy of the winter season. However, the April 2 snow survey that measured the liquid equivalent in the Sierra snowpack came in at a disappointing 55 percent of normal. One above-average month of rain and snow wasn’t enough to make up for this mostly bone dry season.

  • #230 WINTER OF 1982

    TAHOE NUGGET #230: WINTER OF 1982 It’s been 30 years since one of the deadliest avalanches in Sierra Nevada history broke loose at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort and killed seven people. For those of us who remember this tragic event on March 31, 1982, and the days of grief and hope that followed, it represents a benchmark in time. The 15.5 feet of snow that fell at the Central Sierra Snow Lab between March 27 and April 8, 1982, still ranks as the greatest single snowstorm total on record for Do...

  • #229 CAMP CENTURY PART 2

    CAMP CENTURY: CITY UNDER ICE  (PART 2 OF 2) Around 1960 a secret United States military installation known as Camp Century was constructed 40 feet below the surface of the Greenland Ice Cap. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the camp was powered by the Army’s first field nuclear power plant.

  • #228: CAMP CENTURY PART 1

    CAMP CENTURY: CITY UNDER ICE (PART 1 OF 2) Fifty years ago, a secret United States military installation known as Camp Century was constructed 40 feet below the surface of the Greenland Ice Cap, just 800 miles from the North Pole. The remote outpost, buried deep under Arctic ice, was manned by more than 200 American military personnel and civilian scientists. Camp Century’s subterranean location beneath the ice cap protected the men from some of the harshest weather on the planet.

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ENDORSEMENTS

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— Melodie Nelson

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