What Does Lake Tahoe Weather Look Like?
By: Alex Silgalis
Over the past few years, the resounding questions we get are around here are “What does Lake Tahoe weather look like?” or “When should I come to visit for [insert activity]?” Of course, you can’t predict the weather over the long-range, but you can get a basic theme of what to expect. To help plan your vacation, here’s a few tips and a quick breakdown of our weather.
Being the first mountain range that gets hit by storms, this means Lake Tahoe weather can change quickly or remain constant for a LONG period of time. For example, the Lake Tahoe region has recorded snowfall in every month of the year. On the other hand, we’ve had winters where it didn’t snow for over two months!
Does that mean it’s going to snow in August? Or not snow during your ski vacation? Probably not. The moral of the story is to be prepared. Coming in summer? Bring a sweatshirt just in case. Coming in winter? Bring some shorts because you never know. With that said, South Lake Tahoe weather is true “weather perfection” for an alpine setting and those that enjoy outdoor activities.
In June, July, and August, the probability of a sunny day exceeds 90% with an average afternoon temperature between 69 to 77 degrees. The biggest risk during this time of year is sunburn due to the high elevation and closeness to the sun. So, be sure to wear sunscreen!
In the wintry months (late November, December, January, February), this is typically when huge, powerful storms slam into the area, dumping feet of snow at lake level but statistically on just 50 days. This translates to three days of fair Lake Tahoe weather for every day of fresh powder. Storm activity usually lasts for a few days or up to a week, but once it clears, expect lots of sun.
Compared to the mid-winter months, there’s still a high likelihood of snowstorms, but they pass through quicker and the sun is MUCH warmer. Even on the worst (low) snow years, there’s a reason why this month is called “Miracle March” by powder hounds.
Love the warmth AND snow? During April, May, and June, the storm’s ‘punch’ reduces drastically to a trickle. The colder temps moderate. You can honestly ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Although the average May temperature is around 60 in the shade, it’ll feel MUCH warmer. Combine that with overnight lows around freezing and you have a perfect recipe for some of the BEST spring skiing in the world.
As the kids go back to school, the summer weather continues into fall. In September, the highs average around 70 degrees, and once October rolls around, it’s usually about ten degrees colder. With events like Oktoberfest, the running of the salmon at the Taylor Visitor Center, and changing of the leaves, there’s still a TON to do. Simply put, expect warm and dry South Lake Tahoe weather.
As anyone that has been around the Great Lakes or seen the fog in San Francisco, bodies of water can affect local weather drastically. This is definitely the case with Lake Tahoe weather. Those in-the-know about weather consider the Tahoe Basin to be within the “banana belt.” With the Sierra Nevada crest to the west, our region is spared from the harshest weather. During a heatwave, it can be as much as 10 degrees cooler, and in the winter due to the relative warmth of the waters, it can affect snow levels as well.
As you can see, there really isn’t a “best” time to visit… but rather it’s ALWAYS the best time to visit Lake Tahoe.