Today is the last day of some sun and mild temperatures in the 40's. Wednesday the first in a series of storms moves in. Snow levels start just above 7000 feet and fall below lake level by evening. Only expecting light snowfall during the afternoon with a coating to an inch possible on the mountains. Strong ridge top winds should close down upper lifts. Then heavy snow Wednesday night, tapering off Thursday morning. We could see 3-11 inches at lake level, and 4-16 inches on the mountains. Thursday night the next storm begins to move in with light snow. Then heavy snow Friday into Friday night before tapering off by Saturday morning. High winds again with this event. Additional snowfall accumulations of 5-12 inches at lake level, and 6-16 on the mountains possible. We should see a break Saturday afternoon and evening. Then the the coldest and wettest storm of the weekend should move in late Saturday night. Expecting heavy snow Sunday into Monday before tapering off Monday night. Additional snowfall of 22-42 inches at lake level, and 25-54 inches on the mountains possible. Then high pressure builds in over the West starting next Tuesday. We may have a break in the storms for at least a week into February.
Short Term Forecast
Not much change to the forecast this morning. Still expecting 3 storms and 6 days of snow starting tomorrow. No change on the idea of progressively wetter and colder storms.
One of the things I'm still struggling with is the rain/snow shadow on the first storm. The GFS is back to keeping most of the precip with the Wednesday night storm near the crest, with not much making it East into the Tahoe basin. The GFS is splitting the storm to our North and the moisture is losing its forcing at it hits the Sierra.
See the sharp cutoff across the lake? The other models show some splitting and shadowing but not as much as the GFS. Here is the Canadian showing slightly more spillover into the Tahoe basin but not much.
The NAM shows even more spillover.
and the European model which we can't post is showing even more... Historically the GFS has been right on these types of storms and wrong. The Euro tends to be bullish on spillover to the East side of the lake on all storms. The latest European run has double the precip along the crest as the GFS and 5 times as much on the East side of the lake.
Expecting mostly clouds and high winds for Wednesday with the snow moving in during the afternoon, but not expecting much accumulation until Wednesday night when the cold front moves through. If the GFS is right there will not be much snow on the East side of the lake including South Lake Tahoe. So don't post on here when you get an inch of snow at best and say you thought there was a big storm coming. You have been warned!
Here is the updated forecast taking the GFS/Euro average. I would lean to the lower end and hope for the best.
The models are faster in clearing out on Thursday. We should see things clear out by Thursday afternoon and a break through Thursday evening. Then after midnight Thursday night into early morning Friday the precip from the next storm should start to push in. We should see heavy snow Friday into Friday evening before tapering to showers overnight.
The latest model runs are in good agreement in total precip amounts with this storm. Here is the GFS forecast through Friday night.
Here is the updated snowfall forecast by Saturday morning.
The latest trend is a faster departure with this storm as well. We should clear out Saturday morning with a break Saturday afternoon into Saturday night. Then snow from the final storm could move in as early as after midnight Saturday night.
This storm looks wetter and part of that reason is a longer duration as the storm may last 2 days, Sunday into Monday. It is also pulling in more moisture off the Pacific.
Plenty of cold air for all snow below lake level. We should see heavy snow Sunday through Sunday night, and into Monday. The GFS clears out the storm faster by Monday afternoon. The European model holds snow showers into Monday night before clearing out. But the GFS is wetter on the earlier part of the storm, so the latest model runs show similar precip totals.
Here is the GFS total precip forecast by next Tuesday.
Here is the initial snowfall forecast for this storm. I'm going out 6 days, so still time for adjustments. But you can see this storm could be a good one if the forecast holds.
I'll let you do the math on the total snowfall over the 6 day period. It adds up to several feet of cold snow on the mountains!
Enjoy the snow over the next week because a January thaw is coming late. We normally see a prolonged break in the storms every Winter around the middle. The last several years it has come during January. This year it looks like it is coming at the very end of January into February.
The ridge looks like it will build over the West up into Western Canada the 2nd half of next week.
We have seen this before this season as the pattern switched from a positive to a negative EPO pattern, replacing the trough over Alaska with a ridge. The long-range ensemble runs are showing that transition happening much slower this time.
The GFS ensembles like the run below are trying to put the ridge near Alaska by the end of the month, but the other models are keeping the ridge in the West into February.
So we will have to watch what happens. The MJO is starting to become active and may progress into the Indian Ocean over the next 2 weeks. So we will have to see if that will affect the pattern as well. For now expecting a break in the storms for a least a week starting next Tuesday.
This is an example of why you don't throw parades halfway through the season celebrating the big snows. We are only at 67% of average on the upper mountains. Above average snowfall is never guaranteed until we are actually above average. I think this break is temporary but a good reminder that we need the storms to continue to get a big season.
Mt. Rose, Heavenly, Diamond Peak
Tahoe Donner, Homewood, Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge
Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Sugar Bowl, Squaw, Alpine, Sierra, Kirkwood
*Boreal and Donner Ski Ranch are forecast with the "West" mountains in higher snow levels events.
*The snowfall forecasts on the ski resort pages are for the upper mountains at 8000'.
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