Oct 20 2011

Autumn finally arrives in Tahoe

Autumn colors at sunrise with a storm on the horizon.

Fall is finally visible in Tahoe, which means winter is around the corner. It’s been in the air since Labor Day, with a sneak attack of winter in early October. All these things bode well for a good winter, but it is still too early to tell. Even so, it is fun to read and hear the prognostications floating about.

My preference is to look at the signs in nature. Even though winter has threatened an early arrival, my sense is that was a hollow threat. We had a banner year last year, and good one the year before, and history suggests that the Sierra Nevada is not to be counted upon for two strong years in a row. Not that it isn’t possible, but it doesn’t happen that often.

There's only one maple in our yard, but it rocks in October.

My bigger clues are not the weather patterns, although I do consider those, but the squirrels. Since moving here over fifteen years ago I have not kept records of my observations but it seems the squirrels get word from on high whether or not they need to stock up a lot or a little. Last year they started going crazy in early August raining pine cones down on our roof and throughout September. Snow followed soon after and true to my recollections of an El Niño, not a La Niña, the winter started early and ended late.

Same tree, different view.

This year it seems the squirrels are saying, “what’s the rush?” The leaves on the aspens and our lone maple have been slow to turn as well. Which has not helped to motivate me to finish some of the yard projects I need to complete before it’s all buried in Sierra cement. I’m betting on a good year, not a big one, but not a weak one either. That and my ever evasive, immune to error claim that “it’s gonna be unlike any winter you can ever remember.”

A whole bushel full of color.

The absence of chlorophyll hints at winter to come.

Next week, a profile of someone who has proven he knows a whole lot more about weather than you or I, and what he thinks is in store for us this Eleven-12 season.

© 2011