The Sierra Nevada is no stranger to big snowstorms. As far back as November 1846, The Donner Party learned this the hard way with a five-foot overnight snowstorm. Since snow records began in 1879, there have been some incredible snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada of California.
The Sierra still gets huge amounts of snow, with Sugar Bowl ski resort leading the charge with 500″ of snow per year. This isn’t surprising as Sugar Bowl is located on Donner Pass, where many of the records below took place.
Nine Incredible Sierra Nevada, CA Snow Records:
#1: Echo Summit (Hwy 50), Lake Tahoe, CA
- 67-Inches of snow in 24-hours on January 4th-5th, 1982. Second heaviest USA 24-hour snowfall on record.
#2: Donner Summit (Hwy 80), CA
- 298-Inches of snow in April 1880. USA’s snowiest April on record.
#3: Tamarack (Hwy 4), CA
- 390-Inches of snow in January 1911. USA’s one-month snowfall record.
#4: Tamarack, CA
- 454-Inches of snow depth in March 1911. USA’s seasonal snow depth record.
#5: Tamarack, CA
- 884-inches of snow in 1906-07. Sierra Nevada record snowfall for one season.
#6: Mount Shasta Ski Bowl, CA
- 189-inches of snow in one storm February 13th – 19th, 1959. USA’s single storm snowfall record (we know, not the Sierra Nevada – the Cascades, but still worth mentioning).
#7: Lake Tahoe, CA
- 193.7″ of snow in December 2021, smashing the previous record of 170″ in 1970 (and it’s still snowing…)
#8: Tahoe City, CA
- In January 1938, Tahoe City was buried under 17-feet of snow in 16 days. This was followed by a further 29-feet in just 14-days. By the end of winter, 819″ of snow was measured at Donner Pass, a record that still stands.
#9: Palisades Tahoe, CA
- 313″ of snow fell in February 2019 at Palisades Tahoe, CA (formerly known as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows) making it the sowiest month in the resort’s history.
3 Bonus Snow Records for the Lake Tahoe Region:
#1: The Biggest Snowstorm at the Donner Summit Snow Laboratory, CA
- 186-inches (15.5 ft) of snow from March 27 to April 8, 1982.
#2: The Biggest 24-hour Snowstorms at the Donner Summit Snow Laboratory, CA
- 52-inches of snow on February 3, 1989.
#3: The Deepest Maximum Snow Depth at the Donner Summit Snow Laboratory
- 311-inches (26 ft) of snow depth in 1952.