Reporting Dave Bender
Rain has stopped for most of the region, but there are threats of pop-up thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon, while the much-needed snow starts to pileup in the high country.
The fresh dusting of snow on Highway 50 made for some tough driving conditions. Employees at a Chevron station at about 3,500 feet say they didn’t expect this much snow. The weather actually cut off their satellite feed so they weren’t able to accept debit and credit cards for a short time.
But, for skiers and snowboarders, this is the weather they’ve been looking for. Sugar Bowl, the oldest resort in the Tahoe area, knows its snow and says a strong storm in March is usually what sets us up for a strong spring of skiing.
They’ve received a foot overnight and much more is expected. The wind and cold is making for a harsh day, but nothing will get diehard snow lovers away from the fresh powder.
“Definitely one of the best days of the season,” said one snow fan.
“It’s like floating instead of riding along,” said another.
It was a dry start to the year after a big helping of snow back in December but now riders are hoping much more snow is on its way. This is coming in just in time for the Bonzai Tour this weekend at Sugar Bowl.
These riders didn’t want to wait until the weekend, many playing hooky to get a taste of the Sierras at its finest.
Down in the valley, the rain was a welcome sight for some thirsty crops, but some farmers say too much of it could mean big problems.
Lyndol Swartz has been working this Live Oak almond orchard since 1960. On more than 500 acres, he makes his living from his crops which can live or die by the skies above.
“You could be the best farmer in the world, if the weather don’t cooperate with you, you won’t have anything,” said Swartz.
He, like many area farmers, has been waiting on the rain. It finally fell Tuesday night, serving up a half inch of rain for his almond trees. But peaches and almonds can run into real trouble with too much rain.
“You don’t see brown rot until it’s too late,” said Swartz.
The brown rot, a fungus, grows when too much moisture sits on the blossoms.
“It can devastate your crop and your trees. The rot can go in here and kill this limb all the way back,” Swartz said as he pointed out where the damage can occur.
Swartz treated his crops to prevent the rot, but the more rain that falls, the more treatments are needed.
“It’s very expensive, cost me, with the application and everything, about $60 dollars an acre,” the farmer said.
With 500 acres, that adds up, costing more than $30,000 in fungicides.
Swartz is hoping for a little bit more rain in March, just enough to keep this trees happy and the brown rot at bay.
The rest is up to his bees. They’ are tasked with pollinating while Swartz waits, and hopes, for a frost-free spring that has the potential to kill his crop and all his hard work.