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The Tahoe Daily Snow

Snow & Powder Forecasts for Tahoe

What Does an Early Snow Mean?

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Summary

Chilly today with lingering snow showers and high temps struggling to get out of the 40's. The weather improves quickly this weekend with sunshine and highs going back into the 60's, and then the 70's by the middle of next week.

Short Term Forecast

We saw the first early season snowfall yesterday with a pretty wet and cold system for this time of year.  Many were surprised but as usual we weren't because we are always tracking snow anytime of year!  This was the first forecast of the season.  I predicted the first snowfall to be around the 20th back on the 10th, and was off by a day, so I need to shake off a little rust before we get into the season.

It is not uncommon to see the first snowfall in September.  It is more common in the upper elevations.  The less common part of the storm yesterday was how low the accumulating snows fell, down below 6000 feet.  On average around the Tahoe area from lake level up to the higher elevations it looks like 1-3 inches of snow fell.  I will try to get some early ski resort snow reports today, but it's hard this time of year.

It is looking a lot like Winter this morning up on the mountains!

squaw

kwood

It is always exciting to see the mountains covered in snow this time of year!  It starts to switch the gears in your mind from Summer to Winter.  Although the snow will all melt pretty quickly, it's a reminder it won't be long before it comes to stay!

I though this morning I would just run down through the years we saw measurable snowfall in September reported on Donner Summit at the Snow Lab, and what the following seasons brought for snowfall.  I will post it as "year" - "september snowfall" - "ending season snowfall to average"

1971 - 13" - 91%

1981 - 2" - 152%

1982 - 5" - 164%

1984 - 1" - 101%

1985 - 5" - 109%

1986 - 29" - 57%

1989 - 1" - 77%

2000 - 3" - 84%

2004 - 2" - 117%

2007 - 4" - 85%

2013 - 1" - 48%

So it basically means nothing historically, ha ha.  Half of the years with September snowfall were above average that season for total snowfall, and half below.  If you take the average it shows the following seasons bring 99% of average snowfall.  So as nice as it is to see an early snowfall, it has no significance to the pattern ahead for the Winter.

The average snowfall for the month of September is 2 inches, so we may have it the average or just above.  So at least it is not a bad start to the season statistically.  But the Snow Lab records the snowfall based on the water year calendar which runs Oct-Sept.  So technically this snowfall goes towards last season.  But the ski resorts will record it as this season.

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Extended Forecast

High pressure looks like it will continue to build off the West Coast this weekend and into next week.  The storm track looks to stay well to the North through the end of the month.  So we should see some nice Fall weather the next couple weeks.

Still watching things develop for the upcoming season.  The Jamstec Winter forecast came out a few days ago.  It shows colder than average temperatures for CA and below average precip. Jamstec

That falls in line with the thinking I have been discussing so far, that we could see a colder than average Winter but average to below average total precip.  The colder air however could bring higher snow ratios with average to even above average snowfall.  

We will keep watching things as they develop.

Stay tuned...BA

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