Tahoe Daily Snow

Painful Start to the Season...

Summary

Dry and mild is the word through the end of the month and into the beginning of December. We may start to cool down some the weekend of the 4th-5th but stay dry. Our only hope as it sits right now is maybe some weak storms the 2nd week of December.

Short Term Forecast

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I also hope that you are distracted by family and shopping this weekend so that you aren't looking at the ugly weather forecast. After a good October, November has been bone dry and the outlook isn't great.

The Weekend:

High pressure has a firm grip on the region through the weekend. Highs into the 50s and near 60 degrees at lake level by Sunday. The highest elevations will even warm into the 40s. 

Even worse news is that we are in a stagnant pattern with light winds. Great if you like nice weather, not great if you are trying to make snow. The coldest air is stuck in the valleys with overnight lows above freezing and even 40s. Here is a look at the temperatures for the top of Palisades Tahoe last night.

Palisades Top

Meanwhile, at the base, it dipped just below freezing for several hours overnight.

Palisades Bottom

This is expected to continue through the weekend. You also notice the humidity rising at night. We will start to see fog layers develop and the higher humidity makes snowmaking even harder with the marginal temperatures. Any snowmaking is limited to the very bottom of most mountains if they even go that low.

Boreal announced any opening for today with one small trail and Palisades Tahoe is opening with just a couple of small beginner trails near the learning center. Not really open if you are not a beginner. I don't see the terrain expanding anytime soon with the mild temperatures, and we could see some melting of what has been made.

Next Week:

It is painful for me to write these words but it is what it is right now. Not a good pattern for cold or snow. The ridge is forecast to be stuck through next week with the dry and mild pattern continuing through next Friday.

ridge

The beautiful weather for hiking and being outdoors continues, but likely little if any snow being made over the next week.

Extended Forecast

By the weekend of the 4th, we have been looking at the pattern possibly starting to shift. The long-range models are still showing the ridge weakening and shifting east, but not as far east and without a deep trough digging south don't the West Coast in the latest model runs. We may just transition from one dry pattern to another, albeit possibly a cooler pattern with colder nights for snowmaking.

head bang

Fantasy Range:

The long-range ensemble models were in agreement in a possible flip to a negative PNA pattern over the last several days starting around the 5th, but have now all shifted towards more of a neutral PNA pattern. Less favorable for storms into CA even with a shift in the overall northern hemisphere pattern.

pna

There's a reason this is called the "fantasy" range as the forecast models tend to lose about 7-10% of their accuracy each day out, and beyond 10 days you're crazy to bet any money on them. I think this image is being generous.

model accuracy

The problem with pattern changes, especially in CA, is they can shift from one kind of dry pattern to another. The long-range models also tend to be too fast with troughs in the West in the long-range. So we are back to our usual chasing and elusive trough in the fantasy range... The latest long-range models show West Coast troughing starting around the 7th-8th.

gfs trough

They have a dry CA through the 6th...

dry ca

...and then are showing weak systems bringing light precip through the 2nd week of December.

wet ca

In previous posts, I talked about my feelings that we may see weak systems going into and through the 2nd week of December, but that I think it could be short-lived. Once the Greenland block kicks out I think the pattern could shift some, at least to a colder pattern starting around the 5th into the 2nd week of December, and with time the door may open to some weak/moderate systems. 

Breaking down the ensemble mean total precipitation forecast through the 12th on the map above, about 1/3rd of the ensemble members are completely dry through the period.

ensemble members

The European model's ensemble members are worse with almost half 24/50 dry. The Canadian model is a bit better with only 4 of 20 dry. I like to look at the ratios that are giving us the average/mean forecast maps in the long-range. Taking them all, about 63/100 show at least weak systems for the 2nd week of December right now, so leaning slightly in favor of a slightly more active pattern.

But I'm not a fan of the active phase of the MJO moving into the Western Pacific as is forecast by the 2nd week of December. I think we could ridge up again by mid-month. But we'll see... The MJO doesn't look to start heading into more favorable regions for storms until late in December as we've been discussing. Here's to hoping I'm wrong...

La Nina Snowfall Trends:

It is only November still and in many seasons we don't get things going until at least mid-late December. Past La Nina seasons have shown an even slower start compared to the overall average of snowfall by month. Historically the average of all La Nina seasons is back-weighted, with March being the biggest month.

la nina snowfall by month

We are expecting a weak/moderate La Nina season. Weak La Ninas are even more delayed at the start as compared with all La Ninas.

weak la nina snowfall

Moderate La Ninas tend to get going sometime in December with January more equal with March, I'm not sure what happens with February?

moderate la nina snowfall

We dipped last week into moderate La Nina territory.

la nina

The forecast is to bottom out in this range in December and then for the La Nina to weaken through the end of the season.

So don't fret quite yet, it's early and not uncommon to start slower in La Nina seasons. We still have a whole season ahead as most ski resorts don't typically open until the end of November through mid-December. The forecast is grim, but not time to panic yet, it doesn't take much for a big turnaround here in CA. We just need one big storm.

In the meantime, head to the northern Cascades and northern Rockies if you're desperate for snow over the next two weeks. Hopefully, the light snow in the Sierra pans out and continues in the long-range. Heavier preferred if you're listening Santa.

snow

Stay Tuned & Pray for Snow...BA

P.S. We have been getting some questions about removing Alpine Meadows as a separate mountain with its own page on our site. We were asked to do that by Palisades Tahoe. They are working to combine everything under one mountain.

As you can see on their new weather page, they will have "Upper Mountain", "The Village", and "Alpine Lodge" as the 3 weather forecasts, conditions, & snowfall tracking locations going forward, under one mountain "Palisades Tahoe".

Mountain Dashboard (palisadestahoe.com)

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