- Light snow showers Saturday morning will become more scattered through the day before clearing out by Saturday night. We could see an additional 1-3 inches of snow on the mountains. Highs remain in the 30's on the mountains to near 40 at lake level. Light winds. - We will see a break on Sunday with sunny skies. Highs in the 40's. The winds could start to pick up later in the day on the mountain tops ahead of the next storm. - We will see a prolonged 4-day storm Monday - Thursday with several waves moving into Northern CA. We could see several inches of snow on the mountains each day, that could add up to 1-3+ feet of snow on the mountains by Friday morning. Snow levels could hover around 6,000-6,500 feet through Tuesday evening before falling below 5,000 feet by Wednesday morning. We should see some strong winds with this storm affecting upper mountain lift operations through Wednesday. - We should see a break next Friday - Sunday, with sunny partly sunny skies and highs in the 40's. - The storms could return as early as next Sunday night the 31st, with several systems possible through the 1st week of April.
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Short Term Forecast
Current Storm Update:
The storm performed pretty much as expected overnight. We were expecting 1-4 inches of snow on the mountains overnight from east to west across the lake. Reports this morning of 1-6 inches, with the highest amounts NW of the lake near Donner Summit. Sugar Bowl is reporting 6 inches overnight.
Here are the updated totals for the storm, March, and the season. I also updated 16/17 & 10/11 as March 23rd those seasons for comparison.
The snow levels have fallen down to around 5,000 feet this morning. We have a coating to an inch of snow around lake level. Light snow showers continue to fall around the area this morning as you can see on radar.
The snow showers will become more scattered as we go through the day before clearing out tonight. The latest model runs for today show 1.5-3.5 tenths of an inch of total precipitation before the storm ends.
That's enough for an additional 1-3 inches of snow on the mountains. Maybe a mountain squeezes out 4.
Nice Day Sunday:
You may want to get outside on Sunday to enjoy the nice weather before the storms return Monday. Sunday should be sunny and mild with highs in the 40's. We could see the ridgetop winds start to kick up later in the day as the next storm approaches.
Only minor changes to the storm for this upcoming week. The models still have a range of 2-4 inches of total precipitation but are starting to come into better agreement on totals and timing of each wave.
We can see the next storm off the coast on satellite this morning.
Those popcorn-shaped clouds are indicative that this system does have some cold air wrapping into it and slightly lower snow levels was one of the changes on the model runs this morning.
The first wave is expected to push into Northern CA by Monday morning. The European model has sped up the arrival of the first wave now, more in line with the GFS.
That will kick this storm off with light to moderate snow moving in Monday. Snow levels could start around 5,500 feet initially Monday morning and then could set up around 6,000-6,500 feet by afternoon into Monday night. That is hovering right near lake level. We could see 3-12 inches of snow on the mountains by Wednesday morning. The range is due to decent shadowing with lower amounts expected on the east side of the lake.
Tuesday we could see the snow showers start to taper off a little, but another surge of moisture could increase intensity again in the afternoon into the evening. Snow levels could continue to hover around 6,000-6,500 feet through Tuesday evening. The latest model runs show colder air moving in later Tuesday night dropping snow levels below 5,000 feet. By Wednesday morning we could see an additional 4-11 inches of snow on the mountains.
Wednesday we are expecting the heaviest snow as the low spinning off the coast pushes inland.
Snow levels are below 5,000 feet so it is snow to all elevations, and the snow ratios are higher on the mountains with drier snow falling. Expecting the moderate-heavy snow to continue into Wednesday evening, with light snow into Thursday morning. We could see an additional 8-21 inches of snow on the mountains above 7,000 feet by Thursday morning from east to west across the basin.
A final wave moving through Thursday could keep scattered snow showers around before the storm finally clear out Thursday night. We could see a final 1-3 inches of snow on the mountains Thursday.
Total precipitation amounts on the GFS model have dropped from 5 to 4 inches near the crest since yesterday morning, but have increased on the European model from 2.6 to 3.6 inches. So pretty good agreement this morning on the 2 models used in the snowfall calculator. The rest of the models are ranging from 2-3 inches of total precipitation near the crest, and 1-2 inches for the east side of the lake.
Here is the WPC model through Thursday, including today.
The total model average is close to 3 inches this morning near the crest. With an average snow ratio over the 4 days of 12:1 at 8,000 feet, that would be an average of up to 3 feet on the upper mountains west of the lake along the crest. The European and GFS models being closer to 4 inches is pushing the high end of the snowfall forecast up closer to 4 feet, so I'd lean towards the low end, for now, to be safe.
The lake level forecast assumes a low snow ratio with the snow levels hovering near lake level, but it also assumes most of the storm we see snow and not rain. If snow levels sit up around 6,500 feet instead of 6,000 feet through Tuesday evening then we could see less than forecast.
Winds are expected to be an issue Mon-Wed with strong ridgetop gusts to 60+ mph. That will likely affect upper mountain lifts at wind prone mountains. Then the winds should come down on Thursday. Wednesday should be fun storm day with the drier snow falling, but Thursday should be THE day.
We should dry out starting Friday with partly sunny skies through Sunday, and highs in the 40's. Some model runs do show the next storm moving in as early as Sunday night, so we will be watching that.
No changes to the long-range outlook for the first week of April. The long-range models still show the storm door remaining open with the storm track into the West Coast.
As we go into April the jet stream usually continues to weaken and starts to shift north. We will have to watch the first week of April closely to see if we get weak storms, slow-moving cut-offs that could bring measurable snow, or a couple of stronger systems.
There are a few signs that the trough in the Eastern Pacific could pull back some the 2nd week of April, and the storm track could start to shift to the north.
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