- Saturday will be cold and dry with increasing clouds. Highs in the 20's on the mountains to low 30's at lake level. - The next cold systems drop down from the north Saturday night into Monday. This system will stall far enough to our north that we only see clouds and scattered snow showers through Monday. A dusting to an inch of snow is possible on the mountains each 12 hour period. - The moisture streaming into northern CA will try to push south into Tahoe Monday night through Thursday morning. We will have to see how far south it pushes as that will significantly impact snowfall amounts. Taking the model average we could see 1-2+ feet on the mountains over the 3 days. Strong ridgetop winds up to 70+ mph. Snow levels fluctuating between 5,000-6,500 feet. - We could see a break for Thursday night into Friday, with some sun and mild temperatures. - We may not see much of a break as the next storm could push in Friday night and last through next weekend. - The active pattern could continue through the first 10 days of March.
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Short Term Forecast
It's a decent morning in the Tahoe basin with cold temperatures, light winds, and increasing clouds. Here is a shot of the lake from Diamond Peak ski resort this morning. Almost looks like a painting.
Not much change to the challenging forecast over the next 5 days. The forecast models are still struggling with when the moisture stream off the Pacific pushes south into Tahoe, and how much precipitation we see. There is better agreement on Sunday-Monday, and again for the storm next weekend.
Saturday - Monday:
Increasing clouds today. The winds stay pretty light with mountain top gusts to 30+ mph. It's still cold with highs in the 20's on the upper mountains and 30's at lake level.
Tonight through Monday we have a cold system moving into the Pacific NW from the north. The cold front stalls over Oregon and moisture streams in off the Pacific underneath the front into Northern CA. That brings heavy precipitation to Northern CA, but most of the precipitation stays to our north through Monday.
The winds should increase on Sunday with mountain top gusts to 40+ mph. They may stay low enough to not affect upper mountain lift operations, but they could gust higher later in the day. Tonight through Monday we could see scattered light showers move through with snow levels fluctuating between 4,000-6,000 feet. We could see a coating to an inch of snow on the upper mountains each 12 hour period at best.
There are two systems that push into the Pacific NW and try to push the moisture streaming in southward towards Tahoe. One Monday night and the other Tuesday night. The difference on the models this morning looks to be whether or not the first one pushes the moisture south Monday night, or not until the 2nd trough pushes in Tuesday night.
The GFS is now the wettest model run pushing the heavier precip in by Monday night, while the European model is wetter today but still the driest not pushing the heavier precip in until Tuesday night. So for the forecast through Monday night I have the split of the two models with 1-3 inches of snow possible Monday night on the east side of the lake, and 4-7 inches on the west side. Here is the total snowfall forecast by Tuesday morning.
The GFS has the small AR pointed at Tahoe by Monday night into Wednesday.
The rest of the models have the heavier precip pushing south into Tahoe by Tuesday night.
Tuesday and Wednesday the strong upper mountain winds could continue. We could see upper mountain lift closures on wind prone mountains Mon-Wed. The latest model runs have the precipitation continuing into Thursday morning now before clearing out. Snow levels fluctuate between 5,000-6,500 feet. We will have to keep an eye on snow levels right around lake level, with the best chance to flirt with rain being Wednesday-Wednesday night before cold air moves in towards the end of the event.
Total precipitation amounts don't have as big of a range as yesterday, but still a big range. The Canadian model was showing 4 inches of total precipitation yesterday and has dropped down to 2.5 inches near the crest. The GFS and European models are up 2-3x from yesterday. The Euro now shows up to 1 inch, and the GFS is now the wettest with up to 4 inches. They both have support from their ensemble mean runs, so that isn't making the picture much clearer.
The total model average including the ensembles is around 2.6 inches near the crest. The GFS/Euro average used in the snowfall forecast is 2.7 inches. Here is the WPC's blended model showing up to 2.5 inches which is the closest model run to the average.
I like that the GFS/Euro average used in the snowfall forecast below is close to the total model average. So even though there is a range on the models of 1 to 4 inches of total precipitation, this is the best we can do with the forecast today. Here is the updated snowfall forecast for Tuesday-Thursday.
That would bring the total snowfall potential for Saturday night through Thursday morning of 9-31 inches on the upper mountains. We will have to keep trying to get a better idea of when the heavier precip will push in, and how much. If the Euro is right we could see a high end of only a foot on the mountains on the west side of the lake, and if the GFS is right we could see over 4 feet. That is too big of a range for any confidence in the forecast.
The forecast models come into better agreement after the storm, showing a break later Thursday through Friday. Friday we could see some sun and highs into the 40's at lake level. The clouds and winds could increase later in the day as the next storm is quickly approaching.
The next storm is still expected to possibly push in by Friday night. This storm looks to be a slow-moving storm that could last into Sunday night before ending. At least we got one weekend of better driving conditions in... You can see the next storm is lined up to move in the week of the 4th as well.
The storm for next weekend could push snow levels to 8,000 feet and drop them slowly through the end of the storm. So it could be wet and windy next weekend.
The week of the 4th the ridge out near 160-170w & 50n could shift south towards 30n. That could all for colder storms to drop in from the Gulf of Alaska through the 10th. The long-range ensemble runs are in decent agreement that the trough could sit near or over the West Coast keeping the storm door open through at least the first 10 days of March.
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