Weather in Lake Tahoe: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

Secret Harbor Cove Lake Tahoe East Shore

stevedunleavy.com / Getty Images

If you’re planning your Tahoe vacation, you probably already know the basics about what weather to expect—it’s cold in the winter and warm in summer. But because of the combination of elevation and dry climate, there are massive temperature swings. Winter can be warm enough to ski in just a long-sleeve T, and summer evenings can be chilly enough to warrant a down jacket. Here’s what you need to know about planning and packing for the weather during your stay in Lake Tahoe.

Weather in Lake Tahoe

Tahoe has more than 300 days of sunshine a year, even in the winter—when it’s not snowing, it’s sunny. That means that most winter days feel warmer than the temperature would suggest (and that you’ll need sunglasses year-round.) Sunny days in the summer are practically a given, so almost every day is perfect for relaxing on the beach, boating, floating, and biking. Water and snow are very reflective, so wear sunscreen no matter what time of year you visit. February and March are the coldest and snowiest months, so they’re ideal for ski trips, though spring skiing is usually available into May or June. If you plan to hit the beach, book your trip in July or the first three weeks of August. There’s very little humidity, even in the summer. 

Climate

Tahoe’s climate is dry and temperate. Even in the summer there’s very little humidity and most of the precipitation falls in the winter during snowstorms. The lake is at an elevation of 6,200 feet (1,890 meters) but the surrounding mountain peaks are around elevations of 9,000 to 10,000 feet (2,743 to 3,048 meters.) The towns around the lake get much less snow than the mountains do, and often it’ll be sunny on the east shore of the lake but snowing on the west. 

Fast Climate Facts

Traveling During the Snowy Season

If you’re traveling to Tahoe by car when there’s snow in the forecast, make sure you’re able to pass chain control. Many of Tahoe’s roads get extremely snowy and icy, so the only cars able to travel on them need to have either 4WD with snow tires, or chains on all tires. Without these, drivers are denied access to the road. Expect drives to take anywhere from twice as long to several hours longer during heavy snow. Chain control is usually lifted as soon as the snow stops.

Graphic describing what to expect for lake tahoe weather
TripSavvy / Madelyn Goodnight

Winter in Lake Tahoe

In the winter, expect temperatures in the teens and 20s degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to 3 degrees Celsius) during snow storms. However, when it’s not snowing, it’s usually quite sunny; these are what locals refer to as “bluebird days.” When the sun is out, the temperatures can climb into the 30s and low 40s degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 4 degrees Celsius), even with fresh snow on the ground. However, below freezing temperatures are common at night, so bring a down jacket, gloves, and a hat everywhere you go. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are the activities of choice all winter long. 

What to pack: Pack the warmest clothing you have. You’ll need gloves and a warm hat every evening plus boots with good traction for walking on snow and ice. 

Average Temperature and Snowfall by Month

December: 38 degrees F / 24 degrees F ( 3 degrees C / -4 degrees C); 74 inches

January: 40 degrees F / 24 degrees F (4 degrees C / -4 degrees C); 68 inches

February: 39 degrees F / 23 degrees F (4 degrees C / -5 degrees C); 72 inches

Spring in Lake Tahoe

Spring, which is really just April and early May, is the same as winter. Expect cold temperatures during snowstorms and at night, but days can climb into the 50s and 60s degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius). If the snow is melted off the trails, it can be an excellent time of year for low-elevation hiking and mountain biking. This is also the time for spring skiing season, when resorts are open until May or June and everyone rides the gondolas in sunglasses and T-shirts. 

What to pack: Some days in late spring will be warm enough to wear shorts, but nights will still warrant beanies, down jackets, and gloves. Pack waterproof shoes or boots as melting snow creates very wet and muddy trails. 

Average Temperature and Snowfall by Month

March: 43 degrees F / 25 degrees F (6 degrees C / -4 degrees C); 74 inches

April: 47 degrees F / 28 degrees F (8 degrees C / -2 degrees C) ; 30 inches

May: 57 degrees F / 35 degrees F (14 degrees C / 2 degrees C); 11 inches

Summer in Lake Tahoe

Summer brings warm temperatures; it’s beach weather all day, every day. Highs can get into the 80s and 90s degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 32 degrees Celsius) during the day, but temperatures will still be in the 50s or 60s degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees C) almost every night. Lake Tahoe experiences wild temperature swings and you’ll still need pants and a jacket almost every night. Almost any day from mid-June to mid-August is warm enough for water activities like boating, floating, and swimming. 

What to pack: Daytime calls for swimsuits, tank tops, and shorts, but you’ll still want a light jacket and long pants on most evenings. 

Average Temperature by Month

June: 66 degrees F / 43 degrees F (19 degrees C / 6 degrees C)

July: 74 degrees F / 50 degrees F (23 degrees C / 10 degrees C)

August: 75 degrees F / 50 degrees F (24 degrees C / 10 degrees C)

Fall in Lake Tahoe

Fall is like spring, but with less snow. Temperatures can still be in the 70s degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) or warmer in early September, but expect days to quickly shift from warm to chilly without much warning. Early October usually doesn’t get much warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) and snow falls regularly by the mid-to-end of the month.

What to pack: You’ll be okay with shorts or light pants and a jacket during the day, but the temperatures will drop enough at night that you’ll probably want warm shoes and an insulated jacket. 

Average Temperature and Snowfall by Month

September: 73 degrees F / 46 degrees F (23 degrees C / 8 degrees C)

October: 63 degrees F / 37 degrees F (17 degrees C / 3 degrees C); 30 inches

November: 50 degrees F / 30 degrees F (10 degrees C / -1 degree C); 40 inches

Was this page helpful?