Average Weather in South Lake Tahoe California, United States
In South Lake Tahoe, the summers are warm, arid, and mostly clear and the winters are long, very cold, wet, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 18°F to 80°F and is rarely below 4°F or above 87°F.
Based on the tourism score, the best time of year to visit South Lake Tahoe for warm-weather activities is from late June to late August.
The warm season lasts for 3.0 months, from June 18 to September 17, with an average daily high temperature above 73°F. The hottest day of the year is August 3, with an average high of 80°F and low of 42°F.
The cold season lasts for 4.1 months, from November 17 to March 22, with an average daily high temperature below 49°F. The coldest day of the year is December 31, with an average low of 18°F and high of 41°F.
Average High and Low Temperature
The figure below shows you a compact characterization of the entire year of hourly average temperatures. The horizontal axis is the day of the year, the vertical axis is the hour of the day, and the color is the average temperature for that hour and day.
Average Hourly Temperature
Pilcaniyeu, Argentina (6,347 miles away); Bulqizë, Albania (6,350 miles); and Atkaracalar, Turkey (6,678 miles) are the far-away foreign places with temperatures most similar to South Lake Tahoe (view comparison).
In South Lake Tahoe, the average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The clearer part of the year in South Lake Tahoe begins around May 30 and lasts for 4.7 months, ending around October 20. On July 29, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 88% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 12% of the time.
The cloudier part of the year begins around October 20 and lasts for 7.3 months, ending around May 30. On March 2, the cloudiest day of the year, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy 54% of the time, and clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 46% of the time.
Cloud Cover Categories
A wet day is one with at least 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation. The chance of wet days in South Lake Tahoe varies throughout the year.
The wetter season lasts 5.9 months, from October 31 to April 26, with a greater than 18% chance of a given day being a wet day. The chance of a wet day peaks at 33% on February 23.
The drier season lasts 6.2 months, from April 26 to October 31. The smallest chance of a wet day is 3% on July 19.
Among wet days, we distinguish between those that experience rain alone, snow alone, or a mixture of the two. Based on this categorization, the most common form of precipitation in South Lake Tahoe changes throughout the year.
Rain alone is the most common for 8.5 months, from April 4 to December 20. The highest chance of a day with rain alone is 13% on November 26.
Mixed snow and rain is the most common for 3.4 months, from December 20 to April 4. The highest chance of a day with mixed snow and rain is 15% on February 7.
Daily Chance of Precipitation
To show variation within the months and not just the monthly totals, we show the rainfall accumulated over a sliding 31-day period centered around each day of the year. South Lake Tahoe experiences significant seasonal variation in monthly rainfall.
The rainy period of the year lasts for 8.7 months, from September 19 to June 9, with a sliding 31-day rainfall of at least 0.5 inches. The most rain falls during the 31 days centered around February 17, with an average total accumulation of 2.8 inches.
The rainless period of the year lasts for 3.3 months, from June 9 to September 19. The least rain falls around July 31, with an average total accumulation of 0.1 inches.
Average Monthly Rainfall
We report snowfall in liquid-equivalent terms. The actual depth of new snowfall is typically between 5 and 10 times the liquid-equivalent amount, assuming the ground is frozen. Colder, drier snow tends to be on the higher end of that range and warmer, wetter snow on the lower end.
As with rainfall, we consider the snowfall accumulated over a sliding 31-day period centered around each day of the year. South Lake Tahoe experiences significant seasonal variation in monthly liquid-equivalent snowfall.
The snowy period of the year lasts for 6.9 months, from October 15 to May 11, with a sliding 31-day liquid-equivalent snowfall of at least 0.1 inches. The most snow falls during the 31 days centered around January 3, with an average total liquid-equivalent accumulation of 1.4 inches.
The snowless period of the year lasts for 5.1 months, from May 11 to October 15. The least snow falls around July 30, with an average total liquid-equivalent accumulation of 0.0 inches.
Average Liquid-Equivalent Monthly Snowfall
The length of the day in South Lake Tahoe varies significantly over the course of the year. In 2018, the shortest day is December 21, with 9 hours, 26 minutes of daylight; the longest day is June 21, with 14 hours, 54 minutes of daylight.
Hours of Daylight and Twilight
The earliest sunrise is at 5:33 AM on June 13, and the latest sunrise is 1 hour, 56 minutes later at 7:29 AM on November 3. The earliest sunset is at 4:37 PM on December 5, and the latest sunset is 3 hours, 52 minutes later at 8:29 PM on June 28.
Daylight saving time (DST) is observed in South Lake Tahoe during 2018, starting in the spring on March 11, lasting 7.8 months, and ending in the fall on November 4.
Sunrise & Sunset with Twilight and Daylight Saving Time
We base the humidity comfort level on the dew point, as it determines whether perspiration will evaporate from the skin, thereby cooling the body. Lower dew points feel drier and higher dew points feel more humid. Unlike temperature, which typically varies significantly between night and day, dew point tends to change more slowly, so while the temperature may drop at night, a muggy day is typically followed by a muggy night.
The perceived humidity level in South Lake Tahoe, as measured by the percentage of time in which the humidity comfort level is muggy, oppressive, or miserable, does not vary significantly over the course of the year, remaining a virtually constant 0% throughout.
Humidity Comfort Levels
This section discusses the wide-area hourly average wind vector (speed and direction) at 10 meters above the ground. The wind experienced at any given location is highly dependent on local topography and other factors, and instantaneous wind speed and direction vary more widely than hourly averages.
The average hourly wind speed in South Lake Tahoe experiences mild seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The windier part of the year lasts for 7.2 months, from November 5 to June 11, with average wind speeds of more than 6.3 miles per hour. The windiest day of the year is April 5, with an average hourly wind speed of 7.3 miles per hour.
The calmer time of year lasts for 4.8 months, from June 11 to November 5. The calmest day of the year is August 6, with an average hourly wind speed of 5.3 miles per hour.
Average Wind Speed
The predominant average hourly wind direction in South Lake Tahoe varies throughout the year.
The wind is most often from the west for 6.6 months, from March 11 to September 28, with a peak percentage of 52% on July 11. The wind is most often from the east for 1.1 months, from September 28 to November 1, with a peak percentage of 35% on October 5. The wind is most often from the south for 4.3 months, from November 1 to March 11, with a peak percentage of 41% on January 1.
Best Time of Year to Visit
To characterize how pleasant the weather is in South Lake Tahoe throughout the year, we compute two travel scores.
The tourism score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit South Lake Tahoe for general outdoor tourist activities is from late June to late August, with a peak score in the third week of July.
The beach/pool score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 75°F and 90°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit South Lake Tahoe for hot-weather activities is from mid July to mid August, with a peak score in the last week of July.
For each hour between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM of each day in the analysis period (1980 to 2016), independent scores are computed for perceived temperature, cloud cover, and total precipitation. Those scores are combined into a single hourly composite score, which is then aggregated into days, averaged over all the years in the analysis period, and smoothed.
Our cloud cover score is 10 for fully clear skies, falling linearly to 9 for mostly clear skies, and to 1 for fully overcast skies.
Our precipitation score, which is based on the three-hour precipitation centered on the hour in question, is 10 for no precipitation, falling linearly to 9 for trace precipitation, and to 0 for 0.04 inches of precipitation or more.
Our tourism temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 50°F, rising linearly to 9 for 65°F, to 10 for 75°F, falling linearly to 9 for 80°F, and to 1 for 90°F or hotter.
Our beach/pool temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 65°F, rising linearly to 9 for 75°F, to 10 for 82°F, falling linearly to 9 for 90°F, and to 1 for 100°F or hotter.
Definitions of the growing season vary throughout the world, but for the purposes of this report, we define it as the longest continuous period of non-freezing temperatures (≥ 32°F) in the year (the calendar year in the Northern Hemisphere, or from July 1 until June 30 in the Southern Hemisphere).
The growing season in South Lake Tahoe typically lasts for 2.4 months (73 days), from around June 20 to around September 1, rarely starting before May 24, or ending after September 27.
Time Spent in Various Temperature Bands and the Growing Season
Growing degree days are a measure of yearly heat accumulation used to predict plant and animal development, and defined as the integral of warmth above a base temperature, discarding any excess above a maximum temperature. In this report, we use a base of 50°F and a cap of 86°F.
Based on growing degree days alone, the first spring blooms in South Lake Tahoe should appear around May 6, only rarely appearing before April 22 or after May 29.
Growing Degree Days
This section discusses the total daily incident shortwave solar energy reaching the surface of the ground over a wide area, taking full account of seasonal variations in the length of the day, the elevation of the Sun above the horizon, and absorption by clouds and other atmospheric constituents. Shortwave radiation includes visible light and ultraviolet radiation.
The average daily incident shortwave solar energy experiences extreme seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The brighter period of the year lasts for 3.4 months, from May 8 to August 22, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter above 7.4 kWh. The brightest day of the year is June 29, with an average of 8.7 kWh.
The darker period of the year lasts for 3.4 months, from November 2 to February 13, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter below 3.6 kWh. The darkest day of the year is December 23, with an average of 2.4 kWh.
Average Daily Incident Shortwave Solar Energy
For the purposes of this report, the geographical coordinates of South Lake Tahoe are 38.933 deg latitude, -119.984 deg longitude, and 6,257 ft elevation.
The topography within 2 miles of South Lake Tahoe contains only modest variations in elevation, with a maximum elevation change of 374 feet and an average elevation above sea level of 6,255 feet. Within 10 miles contains only modest variations in elevation (6,191 feet). Within 50 miles also contains extreme variations in elevation (10,781 feet).
The area within 2 miles of South Lake Tahoe is covered by trees (60%), water (23%), and shrubs (17%), within 10 miles by trees (44%) and shrubs (25%), and within 50 miles by shrubs (47%) and trees (44%).
This report illustrates the typical weather in South Lake Tahoe, based on a statistical analysis of historical hourly weather reports and model reconstructions from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2016.
Temperature and Dew Point
There are 3 weather stations near enough to contribute to our estimation of the temperature and dew point in South Lake Tahoe.
For each station, the records are corrected for the elevation difference between that station and South Lake Tahoe according to the International Standard Atmosphere , and by the relative change present in the MERRA-2 satellite-era reanalysis between the two locations.
The estimated value at South Lake Tahoe is computed as the weighted average of the individual contributions from each station, with weights proportional to the inverse of the distance between South Lake Tahoe and a given station.
The stations contributing to this reconstruction are: Lake Tahoe Airport (95%, 4.0 kilometers, south); Carson Airport (1.9%, 35 kilometers, northeast); and Truckee Tahoe Airport (2.8%, 45 kilometers, north).
All data relating to the Sun's position (e.g., sunrise and sunset) are computed using astronomical formulas from the book, Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets , by Jean Meeus.
All other weather data, including cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and solar flux, come from NASA's MERRA-2 Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis . This reanalysis combines a variety of wide-area measurements in a state-of-the-art global meteorological model to reconstruct the hourly history of weather throughout the world on a 50-kilometer grid.
Land Use data comes from the Global Land Cover SHARE database , published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Elevation data comes from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) , published by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Names, locations, and time zones of places and some airports come from the GeoNames Geographical Database .
Time zones for aiports and weather stations are provided by AskGeo.com .
Maps are © Esri, with data from National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, NAVTEQ, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, and iPC.
The information on this site is provided as is, without any assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for any purpose. Weather data is prone to errors, outages, and other defects. We assume no responsibility for any decisions made on the basis of the content presented on this site.
We draw particular cautious attention to our reliance on the MERRA-2 model-based reconstructions for a number of important data series. While having the tremendous advantages of temporal and spatial completeness, these reconstructions: (1) are based on computer models that may have model-based errors, (2) are coarsely sampled on a 50 km grid and are therefore unable to reconstruct the local variations of many microclimates, and (3) have particular difficulty with the weather in some coastal areas, especially small islands.
We further caution that our travel scores are only as good as the data that underpin them, that weather conditions at any given location and time are unpredictable and variable, and that the definition of the scores reflects a particular set of preferences that may not agree with those of any particular reader.