It's cold today with highs only in the 20's on the mountains and low 30's at lake level. It is clouds as light snowfall is expected to arrive this afternoon and to continue overnight down to lake level. We could see a few inches at lake level and several inches on the mountains. Thursday the snow levels rise quickly to near 8000 feet, but the precip lightens by afternoon. Then only expecting light showers through Friday with snow levels staying near or just above 8000 feet. Friday night into Saturday a cold wave moves through with snow levels dropping to lake level. We could see several inches of snow around the lake with up to a foot on the mountains through Saturday. On Sunday more light precip arrives with snow level rising back up above 8000 feet maybe close to 9000. The light rain showers could continue through Monday. Then heavier rain expected Monday night through Wednesday night with snow levels staying around 9000 feet. Next Thursday a final wave may push in with snow levels lowering slightly. That may be the end of the precip as the storm track may bump slightly to our North the weekend of the 16th.
Short Term Forecast
Well the forecast hasn't gotten any easier this morning. There are a few changes but still expecting a prolonged period of precip over the next 9 days. Let's break down the next few days.
We can see the clouds streaming in already this morning.
The low that will help to draw in the moisture is starting to spin up off the Pacific NW coast. Light snow will break out as early as this afternoon as the warmer air starts to move in and overrides the cold air in place. We could see a dusting to an inch this afternoon.
We should see steady snowfall tonight for all elevations. The warmer air will be trying to work itself in, but we might be ablel to hold onto snow to lake level until close to daybreak. Here is the snowfall forecast for tonight.
First thing Thursday morning the snow might be decent on the mountains, but get out there quickly as the warmer air should work in faster. The latest GFS model run has snow levels to 8000 feet by midday.
The forecast models have all been trending drier with the first wave. It looks like the heaviest precip could be tonight into Thursday morning, and then we taper to lighter showers Thursday afternoon. That may allow the snow levels to rise higher, but it's a lot less precip while they are high. As the snow levels setup near 8000 feet it's hard to know if it will be snowing at 8000 or just above. The snowfall forecast for tomorrow assumes it stays snow at 8000 feet.
Thursday Night - Friday
The forecast models remain in agreement that we only see some light showers on Thursday night into Friday. The freezing levels this morning are looking about 1000 feet lower, but with very light precip the snow levels could be running near the freezing level, so we may still see snow levels of 8500-9000 feet. At best expecting an inch or two above the snow line.
Here is a look at the GFS total precip forecast through Friday. You can see it is much drier than it was the last few days. The GFS has almost a complete break in precip on Friday. The forecast models are in very good agreement on the precip totals through Friday.
This is where the forecast gets more interesting. There is another wave of moisture moving in off the Pacific, but also a cold low moving into the Pacific NW coast to our North. That should push colder air into the region. This morning's GFS run drops snow levels to lake level overnight Friday night. The European model is about half an inch wetter than the GFS Friday night.
Here is the updated snowfall forecast now for Friday night taking an average of the models, and assuming the snow levels drop to lake level.
Here is where the forecast models start to split. The GFS cuts off the precip by Saturday morning, but the European and Canadian models keep it going. The Euro has up to 1.5 inches of additional liquid near the crest Saturday. We really need to watch this because it would make a big difference in the forecast because the snow levels should be near lake level still.
Here is the GFS total precip forecast through Saturday.
Here is the Canadian model which has the snowfall on Saturday unlike the GFS, but not quite as much as the European model.
Taking the model average of the GFS and the European the GFS has 0 snow so it is cutting the European amount in half. So keep that in mind looking at the updated snowfall forecast for Saturday.
Now IF this forecast holds it makes things more interesting. If we see most of the precip fall tonight while snow levels are low, then only lighter precip with high snow levels Thursday-Friday, and then 1-2 feet of snow Friday night into Saturday.....we could have a fun day on Saturday. Let's hope this scenario pans out so we can make the best of the situation.
Here is the updated total snowfall forecast through Saturday. Remember at 6000 & 7000 feet some of this comes before the rain and some after the rain, so it won't pile up to this amount.
Also, keep in mind that the mountain top winds will be blowing in excess of 60 mph through Friday. They should lighten on Saturday.
Saturday night into Sunday we should have a break, but another change this morning is that the GFS is now showing the next wave of precip moving in Sunday into Sunday night. The European is still holding off until Monday. Snow levels should rise above 8000 feet again on Sunday possible to 9000 feet. The GFS is only showing light to moderate amounts of rain mainly along the crest.
There is more agreement that another wave moves in Monday afternoon. Snow levels may briefly dip to 8000 feet Monday, but overall for this next AR (Atmospheric River) event through Wednesday the snow levels look to be closer to 9000 feet.
The GFS is lighter than the European and Canadian models with the total precip next week. We should see rain and very high elevation snowfall Monday through Wednesday. The only reason the GFS has less precip is that it doesn't push as much to the crest and across the basin. It has just as much moisture coming in. So we may be closer to the totals shown on the Canadian and European runs.
Overall it doesn't look overly wet for an AR event with the models showing 1-2 inches of total precip Mon-Wed across the Tahoe basin. We will have to see if that increases by next week. Also, the aim of the AR could shift to our North as well by then. Any snowfall should be limited to above 9000 feet, but above the snow line we could see 1-2 feet of wet snow which is what is showing up on the individual resort pages for a few of the taller mountains. Just remember that snowfall is at the very top.
The final wave may move through next Wednesday night into Thursday, similar to the final wave moving through this Friday night into Saturday from the first AR event. It is way too early to look at snowfall amounts and on the 10 day forecast for the mountains they will continue to fluctuate like they did from yesterday to today.
Currently the GFS has a moderate precip event with snow levels around 7500 feet, and the European model has a heavier precip event with colder air and snow levels possibly closer to lake level.
Overall a wet and mild week next week. Here is a look at the GFS and Canadian total precip foreasts for the next 10 days.
Looking at the ensemble runs at the possible pattern beyond day 10, we may see a ridge build in over the Southwest bumping the storm track just to our North. On the operational runs the storm track is barely to our North.
Let's hope we can get a colder storm in here the week of the 19th before Christmas.
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Mt. Rose, Heavenly, Diamond Peak
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*Boreal and Donner Ski Ranch are forecast with the "West" mountains in higher snow levels events.
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