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Skies will clear today with warming temps into Saturday. On Sunday the clouds increase again as the next system begins to move in. It looks like the precip with the next system will move in Sunday evening and will last into the day on Monday. The snow levels start near 9000 ft. then fall down to 7000 ft. by Monday morning and then near lake level by Monday afternoon as the precip tapers off. Above 8000 ft. we could see 3-6 inches of snow and an inch or two down to 7000 ft.
By next Tuesday a ridge of high pressure builds along the West coast bringing dry and mild conditions through Thursday. A system moving through to our North next Friday may bring some cooler temps. Next weekend looks dry but the pattern begins to change with the ridge shifting off the coast and colder air beginning to dig down the West coast. The next chance for a storm looks to be around the 17th. As we head later in the month the pattern looks colder and possibly snowier.
The weather was windy and colder yesterday up on Donner Summit. The sun was out for a little while but as the cold trough swung through during the evening the snowfall picked up for a couple of hours. We saw an inch of snow and the ski resorts North of the lake are reporting 1-2 fresh inches of snow this morning.
Skies are cloudy this morning but should begin to clear today with lots of sun and mild temps through Saturday. On Sunday the clouds will increase again ahead of the next system. This system will be pulling in a good amount of subtropical moisture, but most of the precip falls to our North in Northern CA. The question is how much precip pushes Southeast into the Tahoe basin. The latest model runs show the precip holding off until about Sunday evening and then the heaviest precip overnight into Monday morning, with lingering showers into Monday afteroon.
The snow levels start up around 9000 ft. Sunday evening and fall overnight to near 7000 ft. by Monday morning. They continue to fall to lake level Monday but the precip is tapering off. The models were in decent agreement last night on heavier amounts of precip than what they have been showing with up to 3/4 of an inch of liquid in the basin and up to an inch along the crest. The 12z NAM still shows that much but the 12z GFS has pulled way back on precip amounts. Waiting to see the new 12z Euro. For now I'm going to be vague with snowfall amounts until we get better model consistency. Right now it looks like we could see 3-6 inches of snow above 8000 ft. with 1-3 inches down to 7000 ft.
Here is the latest GFS precip forecast.
By Tuesday the ridge is beginning to build along the West coast. The only change today to the forecast for next week is some model runs showing a colder system moving into the Pacific NW next Friday. That could cool down our temps and interupt the mild and dry pattern.
Next weekend looks dry but the pattern looks to be undergoing some changes. The ridge begins to build out towards 140-150w. The GFS seems the quickest to move the ridge further offshore and the Canadian the slowest. All of the models show a trough beginning to dig into the West after the 16th with some colder air. The question is how far West is the trough. If the ridge is too close to the coast we may not see any significant snows just cold. Some model runs of the GFS and Euro are showing a system digging down the West Coast around the 17th and other runs keep the ridge too close to the coast.
The one thing that looks fairly consistent among the long-range ensemble runs is that the later we get into the month the further West the ridge is in the Pacific and the deeper and colder the trough is in the East Pacific and along the West Coast. This would mean a better chance for cold and snow the later we go into the month. This is all pie in the sky this far out but something interesting to watch.
The band of rain last night moved through fairly quickly and snow levels didn't fall until after it moved through. The ski resorts are reporting and inch or two above 8000 ft. with the higher peaks reporting up to 3 inches. Colder air moved in behind the rain and snow levels are now down near lake level. As the trough moves through this afternoon we may see some more snow showers around the Tahoe Basin but not expecting more than a dusting on the mountains.
Friday and Saturday should be mostly sunny with highs in the 50's at lake level and 40's on the mountains. The next system pushes into Northern CA on Sunday. Clouds will be on the increase but it looks like most of the precip holds off until Sunday night into Monday. Snow levels start high around 8000 ft. or just above and fall near 7000 ft. by Monday. We could see a few inches of snow above 8000 ft. on the mountains.
Starting Tuesday the ridge builds along the West Coast through Saturday the 15th bringing dry and mild weather. The next chance for a storm looks to be around the 16th. Then the ridge shifts towards the North Pacific with a cold trough for the West Coast. That could bring much colder air for the second half of the month. Storms are still a question but they would most likely be cold storms if we get some.
The band of rain that moved through overnight was narrow and moved through faster than expected. The precip amounts were about half of what was forecasted by the models. The snow levels crashed behind the front but were high as the precip moved through. The ski resorts are reporting 1-2 inches above 8000 ft. with the higher peaks on Mt. Rose and Kirkwood reporting up to 3 inches. Take a look at the temperature crash on Alpine behind the rain band between 3 and 6 a.m. They dropped from 33 to 26 degrees and falling.
Snow levels are down close to lake level this morning but there are no post-frontal showers as expected. The trough will swing through this afternoon and the models are showing some light precip for most of the area. We should see scattered snow showers this afternoon but not expecting more than a dusting of snow on the mountains.
Tonight the temperatures will drop into the 20's so the snow is going to firm up. The groomers will be the call during the morning the next couple of days. The sun will be out with temperatures up into the 50's at lake level and 40's on the mountains so in the afternoons the snow will soften up.
The next system pushes into Northern CA Sunday. It will be pulling up subtropical moisture and will bring a decent amount of liquid to the Pacific NW and Northern CA. The moisture plume will move very slowly Sunday and will mainly stay to our North. It will push South across our area Sunday night into Monday but will also weaken. The models are at odds on the amount of precip that falls as it moves across the Tahoe Basin and the snow levels. The GFS has light amounts of precip and keeps the snow levels near 8000 ft. through Monday. Maybe 1-3 inches above 8000 ft. The European model shows heavier precip and colder air with snow levels dropping down near 7000 ft. It has enough liquid for 3-6 inches above 8000 ft. on the East side of the lake and 6-9 on the West side. So we will have to fine tune the forecast the next 2 days.
By Tuesday the ridge begins to build in along the West coast brining drier weather and warming temps through the end of next week.
The pattern looks like it may begin to shift beyond mid-month. The GFS and European model runs show a colder system trying to push in around the 16th but it may become a cut-off low as the ridge is still along the West Coast and the system could get pinched off. This is still 10 days out so at the edge of the fantasy charts.
Starting the 16th most of the long-range ensemble runs show the ridge retrograding away from the West Coast and shifting NW towards North Pacific near the Aleutians or Gulf of Alaska. This would allow/drive a cold trough down the West coast. The second half of the month looks like it could be much colder if this pattern sets up. Storms are a question depending on where the ridge sets up in the North Pacific. It setup in this location in December and we got lots of cold and little snow as the storms dropped down to our East. If we see the ridge further West in the North Pacific the storms could drop down the coast and bring us decent snows.
Here is the GFS ensemble control run showing the cold air still along the West Coast on the 22nd.
I always caution long-range forecasts because of their lack of accuracy. Looking at the teleconnection forecasts if they work out they support the idea of retrogression of the ridge and a colder pattern for the second half of the month. So we'll see. Maybe mother nature has one last surprise for us going into the 8th inning?
A quick moving band of rain moved through early this morning. Not expecting much precip the rest of the day. The main band of precip associated with a cold front will move through tonight into Thursday morning. Snow levels are already around 8000 ft. and will rise to near 9000 ft. by the time the precip starts tonight. Snow levels will fall near lake level by late Thursday morning behind the cold front. The question is how much precip has moved through by the time the cold air moves through. Right now it looks like most of the snow accumulations stay above 8000 ft. where we could see 2-4 inches on the East side of the lake and 4-8 inches on the West side.
The precip clears out by Thursday afternoon with dry and mild weather for Friday and Saturday. On Sunday another system moves through into Sunday night. Snow levels look to start around 8000 ft. and may fall to 7000 ft. by Sunday night. Above 8000 ft. we could see 1-3 inches on the East side of the lake and 3-6 on the West side. There may be another colder but weaker wave of precip Monday night that could bring a few inches of snow to the mountains.
By next Tuesday the ridge builds in along the West coast with dry and mild weather into the weekend of the 15th. Then we may see a transition to a colder pattern starting around the 16th-18th of March.
Some people have been complaining about the rain at lake level. I as much as anyone else would love to have colder storms but we need the liquid in any form right now and the snow levels have only been between 6500-7000 ft. most of the week. It is different world above 7000 ft. There is dirt at lake level and in Truckee, but on Donner Summit and Southward along the West side of the lake at 7000 ft. there are a couple feet of snow on the ground from the 2-3 feet of snow the past week. Anyone who has been out skiing or riding the past week has had some good days. The snow was thick up on Sugar Bowl yesterday but you could carve fresh tracks all day into the 9-11 inches of new snow that had fallen Monday night. Not cold powder but we are squeezing out as many days of fresh tracks we can in this dry season and the coverage is the best it has been all season so far.
A fast moving band of precip moved through early this morning but is not the next system moving in yet. The snow levels have already risen to 8000 ft. The next couple of systems will be warmer than the storms we saw the past week. The winds will start to pick up today on the mountains with ridge gusts near 40 mph. They will be even stronger going into Thursday with the system moving through so wind prone lifts may close tomorrow. The heaviest precip associated with the cold front will move through between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Then scattered shower could linger into Thursday afternoon.
The snow leves start around 9000 ft. as the cold front approaches and the heavier precip starts. They fall to around 7000 ft. by the time the front moves through by Thursday morning. How fast they fall vs. how fast the band of precip moves through is always the question. Confidence is not high in any snowfall above 7000 ft., and still iffy above 8000 ft. It looks like we could see 2-4 inches above 8000 ft. on the East side of the lake and 4-8 on the West side. We could see a couple of inches down to 7000 ft. if enough precip is still around once snow levels fall. Snow levels may fall near lake level by late Thursday morning before the showers taper off but no accumulations expected.
Here is the GFS total precip forecast by Thursday afternoon. The other forecast models show slightly higher amounts this morning.
A ridge builds along the West Coast Friday into Saturday with sunny and mild weather. The next system moves in Sunday. The strongest part of the storm stays to our North and the system weakens at it encounters the ridge. We should still see some light precip Sunday into Sunday night. The snow levels start out above 8000 ft. Sunday. The GFS keeps them near 8000 ft. until the precip moves out Sunday night. The European model runs show some colder air moving in and snow levels dropping down near 7000 ft. by Sunday night. Either way the precip is light. Above 8000 ft. we could see 1-3 inches on the East side of the lake and 3-6 on the West side.
The models are suggesting that a weaker but colder wave of precip could move through Monday night bringing some light snowfall before the ridge builds along the West Coast starting Tuesday. The Eastern Pacific trough will shift further West out towards the dateline and a ridge will build along the West Coast with dry and mild weather starting next Tuesday and lasting 5-6 days.
Over the past 24 hours the long-range ensemble runs of the models have come into better agreement that the ridge along the West Coast will retrograde West away from the Coast. Some model runs have it moving up over Alaska, some into the Gulf of Alaska, and some further Northwest towards the Aleutians. All of those scenarios would bring a much colder pattern starting around the 16th-18th of March. If this shift happens where the ridge sets up would determine if we get mainly colder air with dry systems dropping down over land from the North or they drop down the coast with more precip. Either way for those of you tired of the mild systems and high snow levels this may be good news in the long-range. This is similar to the pattern we saw in December.
Here is a look at the GFS ensemble control run for the 18th.
Still in the fantasy range but something to watch.
In Other News:
We have the final numbers for February so we can do a February recap. February was a wet and mild month. The first above average precip month since December of 2012. The Tahoe basin picked up 165% of average precip, most of it falling as rain at lake level. That brings us to up to 67% of average on the water year since Oct. 1st. Let's hope March continues to add to those amounts, we are already off to a decent start.
The Truckee River basin picked up 119% of average precip bringing the water year to 51% of average.
It was also a mild month which is why most of the systems brought rain to lake level. The Truckee airport reporting station show the average temperature for the month at 4.1 degrees above average. You can also see that with the amount of liquid that fell if the storms were cold we could have had 5-6 feet of snow in Truckee instead of 3.8 inches.
For snowfall the ski resorts had their biggest month so far this season. Here is a look at the snowfall amounts for February as well as the season amounts as of the end of February and the % of seasonal average. This does not include the snow that has fallen in March. Together the ski resorts were averaging 40% of average at the end of February at the summits.
At lower elevations the percentages are much less with the high elevations storms. The snowfall on Donner Summit where the official records are kept is recorded at 6883'. There was much more snowfall at that elevation in February than at lake level but the for the season still less than 30% of average snowfall. Here is the updated graph we have been tracking through the end of February. It is comparing the driest snowfall seasons of the past 45 years. We are still tracking just above the driest snowfall season of 1976-77 but barely. The snow needs to continue in March and April to reach the 183 inches we saw that season. Hopefully we see a lot more than that the next 2 months. The seasonal average that we will come nowhere near is 411 inches which is way off the top of this chart.
We take it as it comes and try to make the best of all the snow that falls. This was a pretty good week on the mountains. There will be more powder days before the season ends.
The ski resorts West of the lake along the crest picked up another 4-12 inches from the storm last night. East of the crest across the Tahoe Basin 1-3 inches fell above 7000 ft. with rain at lake level. The clouds will clear out today with mild temperatures into the 50's at lake level and 40's on the mountians. The clouds increase again on Wednesday ahead of the next system.
We could see some light precip along the crest Wednesday but most of the precip looks to fall later Wednesday night into Thursday morning, with lingering showers into Thursday afternoon. Snow levels will be up around 9000 ft. on Wednesday. They fall to 7000 ft. with the cold front with the heaviest precip later Wednesday night into Thursday and then close to lake level by the time things end Thursday afternoon. We could see 2-4 inches of snow above 8000 ft. on the East side of the lake and 4-8 inches on the West side. Down to 7000 ft. we could see a couple of inches depending on how fast snow levels fall before the precip moves out.
We clear out again Friday into Saturday with more mild weather. The next system moves in Sunday with snow levels starting high again and falling. We could see light amounts of snowfall on the mountains. Then next week the ridge builds in bringing dry and mild conditions that look to last at least a week.
Light snow fell on the mountains West of the lake along the crest yesterday with light accumulations. I was up riding Alpine and it snowed most of the day. Heavier snow pushed in during the evening and overnight. There was not much forcing so most of the heavy snow stayed along the crest. The ski resorts along the crest picked up another 4-12 inches overnight. East of the crest across the Tahoe Basin 1-3 inches fell on the mountains. 6 day totals along the crest are around 2-4 feet (27-45 inches) with Kirkwood at the higher elevation approaching 5 feet (57 inches) up top. Much less snow on the East side of the basin with the resort totals in the 1-2 foot range (14-25 inches).
We will clear out today but clouds increase again Wednesday ahead of the next system. The heaviest precip looks to hold off until late Wednesday night into Thursday morning with the cold front. Before this we could see ligh rain showers with snow levels around 9000 ft. As the cold front moves through it drops snow levels to near 7000 ft. Thursday morning. As with any of these type of mild storms it is hard to know how fast the snow levels drop vs. how fast the precip moves through. Right now looking at the model runs it looks like 2-4 inches of heavy wet snow on the East side of the lake above 8000 ft. and 4-8 inches on the West side. Down to 7000 ft. is trickier but a couple inches of wet snow is possible. The snow showers look to linger into Thursday afternoon and snow levels could drop near lake level as colder air filters in. Most of the precip should move out by the end of the day.
Friday and Saturday look dry before the next system moves in on Sunday. This system looks to start mild with 8000 ft. snow levels and then they fall later Sunday into Sunday night. The European model is colder with the system and has snow levels dropping to lake level by Sunday night. The system weakens as it comes inland so precip amounts look light. We may see a few inches of snow on the mountains above 7000 ft.
That system clears out Monday. The Euro shows one last cold wave bringing light snow Monday night. The GFS is not showing this feature.
The ridge begins building in and we have at least a week of dry weather starting next Tuesday. The long-range ensemble runs are still all over the place but most of the runs don't show any storms until after mid-month towards the 19th. Overall the pattern setting up is not good for storms with the trough way too far West in the Pacific NW of Hawaii to near the dateline. That is a ridge pattern for us and a dry and mild pattern.
Light rain and snow showers yesterday brought another inch or two to the mountains above 7000 ft. We had a break overnight but the next system is already moving in. Temperatures are already in the mid 30's this morning at lake level and hovering around 32 degrees at 7000 ft. The precip is expected to last through tonight with snow levels staying around 7000 ft. Above 7000 ft. on the mountains we could see 1-3 inches of snow on the East side of the lake, and 3-6 inches inches on the West side and up along the crest.
Tuesday we clear out and warm up through Wednesday. Highs will be up into the 50's at lake level. Wednesday night into Thursday the next system moves in. The strongest part of the system will be to our North and we will be on the mild side. The forecast models disagree on how much precip falls. Snow levels will be above 8000 ft. for most of the event and not falling until near the end. Above 8000 ft. the models show anywhere from a few inches up to a foot or more.
We have another break Friday and Saturday with mild temperatures. The next system moves in Sunday into Monday. It is still too early to know precip amounts and snow levels, but the system does not look that significant. After that we head into what could be an extended dry period.
Snow levels yesterday sat around 7000 ft most of the day with off and on snow showers above that. Reported snowfall amounts in the 1-4 inch range. For many of the ski resorts that was 5 days in a row of snowfall up top. The next system is already pushing onshore this morning.
We should see rain and snow push in along the West side of the basin later this morning and then into the Basin by this afternoon. Snow levels are expected to sit around 7000 ft. again today into tonight. The precip is expected to taper off by Tuesday morning. This system has a lot of moisture, but not a lot of forcing to push it into the Tahoe basin. Looking at the latest model runs we could see 1-3 inches on the mountains on the East side of the lake and 3-6 inches on the West side above 7000 ft. Some model runs like the NAM show enough precip for up to 9 inches above 8000 ft. NW of the lake.
Ridging builds in over CA Tuesday and Wednesday bringing mild temps and sun. The next system moves into Northern CA Wednesday night and lasts into Thursday, maybe into Thursday night. This will be a mild system with high snow levels, at least for the first half of the system. Snow levels look to start around 9000 ft. Wednesday night and drop to 8000 ft. on Thursday. At the end of the event Thursday night they drop down near 7000 ft. and lake level after most of the precip moves out.
The models are not agreeing this morning on how far South the heavier precip will push. The GFS is a glancing blow with maybe 1-3 inches above 8000 ft in total. The European and Canadian models have enough liquid for 3-6 inches on the East side of the lake above 8000 ft. and 6-12 inches on the West side. The NAM is the most aggressive with up to a foot on the East side of the lake and over a foot on the West side. This will only be snowfall for the highest peaks above 8000 ft. We will have to keep watching this storm for snow amounts and snow levels.
Here is the GFS through Thursday.
and the NAM...
By next Friday the ridge is building back in with mild and dry weather into Saturday. The models have sped up the next system we were watching for the 10th to move in on Sunday the 9th lasting into Monday. This system looks fairly weak as it weakens as it encounters the ridge, and the snow levels look marginal.
After this system the ridge builds back in. The forecast models are not in agreement in the long-range but none of them show a pattern setting up that would bring significant snowfall through mid-month. The GFS has a flatter ridge and tries to bring in a system around the 14th. The rest of the models keep the ridge in place and storm track to our North. There is a hint on all the ensemble runs we could see a system just beyond mid-month. Overall not excited by the long-range forecast, or the mild nature of the short-range. The upper mountains will be in good shape though going into March.