RENO, Nev. (AP) — A popular cross-country ski area near Lake Tahoe has temporarily closed due to a lack of snow, and forecasters say the lingering drought should persist or get worse in the months ahead across most of California and Nevada.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country spokeswoman Sally Jones says they”ve done their best to try to keep the trails open for skiing and snowshoeing in the Sierra near Truckee, California.

But she says all programs, clinics and events have been suspended until there”s improvement in the snow and ice conditions.

Most of the region has experienced dry and unusually warm conditions for about a month. The mercury soared to 66 degrees in Reno on Sunday, tying the record set in 1971.

The National Weather Service anticipates more above-normal temperatures headed into February and the U.S. Drought Monitor foresees little relief from the drought now headed into a fourth season.

“Subnormal precipitation is anticipated throughout the West Coast states, western Arizona and most of Nevada,” the monitor said earlier this week. Its seasonal outlook through April 30 forecasts the drought will persist or intensify across all but about the southernmost quarter of Nevada, where some improvement is possible.

A monthly snowpack survey near the south end of Lake Tahoe in late December showed a snow depth of about 21 inches, with 4 inches of water content — roughly 33 percent the norm for this time of year.

The last precipitation at Reno-Tahoe International Airport occurred Dec. 30, when 1.8 inches of snow carrying .06 inches of water fell, according to the National Weather Service office in Reno. The last sizable storm there occurred Dec. 2, when .62 inches of rain was recorded.

Kelly Redmond of Reno”s Western Regional Climate Center, said a familiar pattern has a ridge of high pressure stubbornly sitting off the West Coast, pushing the jet stream north and shouldering any storms that do develop in the Pacific far to the north. While some models suggest a pattern shift might occur late in the month, he said nothing different is expected anytime soon.

“These kind of situations can have a pretty remarkable staying power. We”ve already seen it the last winter or two and it looks like we”re seeing it again,” Redmond told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It looks like January could finish up just like what you”re seeing out your window right now.”

Scott McGuire, a weather service meteorologist, said that while January tends to be the biggest month for snow and rain in the area, a few big storms still could boost the snowpack in February and March.

“Things can change pretty quickly and it only takes a handful of big storms,” McGuire said. “All we can do is keep our fingers crossed for an active February and March.”

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