- Friday into Friday night we will see heavier precipitation push in. Snow levels dropping to around 6500-7000 ft. during the day on Friday into the evening. Then dropping to lake level Friday night. By Saturday morning we could see a coating up to an inch or two for lake level, and 5-14 inches above 7000 ft. on the mountains. Winds on Friday gusting to 50+ mph on the mountains, and highs in the 30s. - Saturday we should see lighter and more scattered snow showers through the day with snow levels around 5000-5500 ft. Then a final system Saturday night brings more snow and colder air. Snow levels dropping below 4000 ft. Snow showers could linger into Sunday morning before we clear through the day. Highs in the 30s at lake level and 20s in the upper elevations. Winds dropping to 35+ mph over the ridges Saturday and lighter into Sunday. We could see a final 2-4 inches at lake level, and 3-9 inches on the mountains. - Sunday afternoon through Tuesday we should see drier weather with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens. - The next storm looks like it splits next week with a low spinning up off the West Coast, and then moving into Southern CA possibly missing us. We will be watching the track all week. - Another storm for next weekend could bring heavy rain and snow to Northern CA, but how close that precipitation pushes to the Tahoe Basin is still up in the air.
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Short Term Forecast
Over the past 24 hours no surprises. We were only expecting a few scattered showers with little to no precipitation and high snow levels. We did see a brief band of precipitation across the south side of the lake on Thursday evening. Mainly rain showers, but Heavenly is reporting 2 inches of fresh snow on the upper mountain which makes sense with their higher elevation. No other snowfall being reported this morning.
Not many changes to the forecast this morning other than to speed up the arrival of the next round of precipitation this morning. We already have some precipitation starting to push in this morning, and that will pick up through the day.
Moisture has been streaming into the West Coast to our north. That is lowering down the coast and will continue to through Friday night.
You can also see the final system that will move through Saturday night spinning to the north of the moisture stream.
The snow level forecast has been holding so far with this storm. Yesterday we were expecting snow levels around 7500-8000 ft. by 4 a.m. this morning, and then dropping to 6500-7000 ft. That is still the forecast this morning, and looking at the weather sensors you can see the temperature drop this morning.
The latest model runs still show freezing levels dropping to around 7500 feet this morning and then stalling around that level through this evening. That would bring snow levels of around 6500-7000 feet for Friday into Friday evening. It looks like we are just about there already, so it will be interesting to see if snow levels hover there through this evening as forecast or dip any lower.
Friday - Friday Night:
For today, we will see precipitation increasing through the morning, with the heaviest precipitation expected this afternoon and evening. Then the snow becoming lighter and more showery going into Saturday morning. Snow levels should drop to around 6500-7000 ft. this morning and sit in that rage through the evening. Winds are gusting to 50+ mph this morning and that should continue through the day, possibly affecting some upper mountain lifts.
The snow levels are expected to drop below lake level around midnight Friday night, and then down to around 5500-6000 ft. by Saturday morning. We should several inches of snowfall on the mountains today and several more tonight. The snow ratios start low today with wetter snow and then rise tonight with some drier snow falling on the mountains. Snow ratios of 6-11:1 increasing to 9-13:1. By Saturday morning we could see a coating up to an inch or two for lake level, and 5-14 inches on the mountains above 7k.
Saturday - Saturday Night:
For Saturday we are still expecting a bit of a break between the jet stream and moisture stream shifting to our south, and the final system moving in Saturday night. We should see lighter and more scattered snow showers. Colder air continues to filter in with highs in the 30s at lake level and 20s for the upper elevations. Snow levels continue to fall to 5000-5500 ft. during the day. We may only see a dusting to an inch of additional snowfall during the day.
Then Saturday night we see a final round of light-moderate snow as the final wave moves through. Snow levels continue to fall below 4000 ft. overnight. That means some nice powdery high snow ratio snow to finish this storm. We could see a final 2-4 inches of snow at lake level, and 3-6 inches on the mountains.
The latest model runs shut-off the snow showers pretty quickly early Sunday morning with clearing through the day and lighter winds. But it's cold with highs only in the low 30s at lake level and 20s on the mountains.
We have the exact same range on the models this morning for total precipitation amounts of 1.1 - 2.2 inches near the crest by Sunday morning. The German and Canadian models are the driest, but I'm discounting those this morning. The 100 model average is 1.5 inches, but the GFS/European average is 1.9 inches. The NAM and WPC models are showing 1.9-2.0 inches.
Within 24 hours of a storm I usually trust the GFS/Euro average and the NAM model runs more than I do farther out.
So I'm going with the GFS/Euro average this morning for the snowfall forecast for the two systems for Friday through Saturday night. You can see the NWS is showing the high-end potential off the wettest GFS model run which would bring up to 28 inches near the crest. Taking the GFS/Euro model average and narrowing the forecast window, here is the updated snowfall forecast.
It's pretty close to yesterday's forecast, just nudge up about an inch or two. Mainly due to an earlier start time today, and slight higher snow ratios for Saturday night. Time to sit back and watch what happens. We are finally getting into the more exciting part of this storm today!
Sunday - Tuesday:
We are still expecting mainly dry weather Sunday through Tuesday. Highs in the 30s and lows in the teens, with highs only in the 20s for the higher elevations above 8k Sunday and Monday. Lighter winds expected as well. With the new snow and terrain expansion, the skiing should be pretty good, especially for mid-December.
Wednesday - Thursday System:
The GFS model has been trending towards the European and Canadian models. They are all now showing the next system splitting as it approaches the West Coast, with a cut-off low forming off the coast. Then the low moves into Southern CA Thursday - Friday. That would mainly miss us with only some clouds and maybe brushed with a light shower.
We will have to keep watching this system all week because a shift north in track would bring us more snow.
Going into the weekend of the 20th-22nd we have a trough digging off the West Coast. But also a ridge over the Western U.S.
We are in the middle between the 2. That is not a good pattern for storms to progress into CA and then to the east. They will dig off the coast and slow down, struggling to push east.
The long-range model runs continue to show the next storm digging off the coast by the end of next week and tapping a decent amount of moisture. Then pointing that at Northern CA going into next weekend. But they show the system slowing/stalling and the orientation of the flow from south to north. That would keep the heavy precipitation over Northern CA and it would have a hard time pushing east into the Tahoe basin.
We have seen this setup many times before. Usually, it causes big snowfall forecasts for Lassen and some forecasts hype the same for Tahoe and we barely see any precipitation push in. This is still a week out with plenty of time to change. I'm only mentioning it because if some model runs like the GFS are right, we could eventually see the heavy rain and snow push into Tahoe next weekend and it's a busy travel weekend through the Sierra.
Looking out beyond 10 days into fantasy range, the long-range ensemble runs show the trough shifting over the West Coast Christmas week.
That would be a cold pattern for CA. It would lean towards a drier pattern with weaker storms moving through. But it's not a ridge of high pressure, so a bigger storm could push in. It looks more like the pattern we thought we could see more than not this winter. We will continue to watch the trend as we get closer.
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