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Sierra Stories

  • Reno’s exceptional snowfall 100 years ago

    By Mark McLaughlin on January 27, 2016
    In contrast to the High Sierra where the annual snowfall averages 35 feet or more, communities located in western Nevada usually escape the worst of the weather. The towering range protects valleys from the intense winter storms that barrel in from the Pacific Ocean. Heavy snow accumulation in the mountains creates a winter wonderland ideal for sports enthusiasts, and the […]
  • Rainmaker cures San Diego drought

    By Mark McLaughlin on January 13, 2016
    It’s been 100 years since Charles Hatfield was hired by San Diego’s city council to end a crushing four-year drought that was bringing the region to its knees. Hatfield was famous for producing moisture during severe western droughts. In Dec. 1915, San Diego’s leaders promised to pay Hatfield $10,000 if he could generate enough precipitation to break a four-year dry […]
  • El Niño ‘83: A Monster Winter, Part IV

    By Mark McLaughlin on December 30, 2015
    Suspense is building across the West Coast to see what El Niño has in store for Tahoe this winter. According to at least one metric, this El Niño is already the strongest one of record since reliable data collection began in 1950. Officials are warning of floods and mudslides in Southern California, while Tahoe Sierra resort operators and snow-starved skiers […]
  • El Niño ‘83: A Monster Winter, Part III

    By Mark McLaughlin on December 16, 2015
    Editor’s Note: Parts I & II are available at TheTahoeWeekly.com. Suspense is building across the West Coast to see what El Niño has in store for Tahoe this winter. According to at least one metric, this El Niño is already the strongest one of record since reliable data collection began in 1950. Officials are warning of floods and mudslides in […]
  • El Niño ‘83: A Monster Winter, Part II

    By Mark McLaughlin on December 2, 2015
    Strong El Niño’s like the one brewing in the Pacific now pump enormous amounts of heat and moisture into the lower atmosphere through evaporation. The process provides fuel to the atmospheric heat engine, speeds up tropical jet stream winds and provides the raw material for increased storminess and rainfall, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. Editor’s Note: Part I may be […]
  • El Niño ’83: A monster winter, Part I

    By Mark McLaughlin on November 18, 2015
      At this point, it would be nearly impossible to find someone who hasn’t heard that a strong El Niño is brewing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. For months now, extremely warm sea surface temperatures have signaled that a cyclical ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) event will be impacting global weather patterns this winter. Particularly for Southern California, warnings for […]
  • 2015 winter weather & looking ahead

    By Mark McLaughlin on October 28, 2015
      By Mark McLaughlin   Southern Pacific Railroad crews shovel snow sheds on April 30, 1983. | Courtesy Mark McLaughlin In the West, precipitation (rain combined with melted snow) is usually measured in water years as opposed to calendar years. In the Sierra Nevada, the water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Historically, Oct. 1 is the date […]
  • Johnny Bartholomew: Hero on the V&T Railroad

    By Mark McLaughlin on October 14, 2015
      By Mark McLaughlin   The engine “Reno” and its stag-horned headlight survived the American Flat fire. | Courtesy Nevada Historical Society     Ride the V&T Daily rides until Oct. 31 | Virginia City to Gold Hill Adults $10-$12.50 | Ages 5-12 $5-$12.50 | 5 & younger free   In its heyday during the 1870s, Virginia City, Nev., rivaled […]
  • Presidential visits to Truckee-Truckee, Part II

    By Mark McLaughlin on September 30, 2015
    By Mark McLaughlin President Rutherford B. Hayes toured Lake Tahoe and Truckee in 1880. Courtesy Mark McLaughlin   Editor’s Note: Part I may be found at TheTahoeWeekly.com.   ational elections in the United States these days have taken on the characteristics of a marathon race with a pitched pace that starts a year or two before the actual vote. The […]
  • Presidential visits to Truckee-Tahoe, Part I

    By Mark McLaughlin on September 24, 2015
      By Mark McLaughlin President Ulysses Grant visited Truckee-Tahoe in 1879. | Library of Congress   We still have more than a year to go before the 2016 presidential election, but candidates are already running hard to position themselves as the strongest choice for their political party’s national convention next summer. They will log thousands of miles as they crisscross […]