Sunny and cold today into Wednesday with highs in the 20's on the mountains and 30's at lake level. A prolonged storm moves in later Wednesday night lasting into Saturday. This is a cold storm that will bring a lot of snow to all elevations including down into Reno and Carson. The snow could be heaviest Thursday, Thursday night, and Friday night, with lighter snowfall Friday and Saturday. The storm moves out Saturday night. High winds could be an issue for Thursday ahead of the cold front. Total snowfall amounts of 1.5-3 feet possible at lake level, and 2-4+ feet possible on the mountains. Several inches up to a foot possible into Reno and Carson with the highest amounts in the foothills. We should clear out for Sunday with sun and highs in the 20's on the mountains and 30's at lake level. Next week we should start dry with highs into the 30's. Then the next storm could move in by next Wednesday and last into Friday.
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Short Term Forecast
The storm yesterday was interesting as most of these systems spiraling down from the North are. We saw the cold front hammer NW of the lake early and then push South down to SW of the lake. That dropped 10-20 inches of snow on the mountains along the crest, the forecast was 11-15 so that was close to forecast and even over forecast NW of the lake. There was good shadowing by the mountains with less snow into the central basin of 3-6 inches at lake level and mountains East of the crest.
In the afternoon and evening we saw a deformation band form to the North of the area as the low spun into Central CA. That moved South and hit along I-80 with another inch or two. Then the winds came quickly around out of the Northeast and the flow from the East brought snow showers into Reno and Carson and the East side of the lake, with several more inches piling up on the tallest mountains on the East side. Again there was good shadowing with little snow making it into the basin during the evening.
So that is how we got the totals below. Some mountains came in an inch under forecast, some right in the range, and some several inches over. In general this was an over achieving storm again that brought more powdery snow!
Here is the keep me honest report comparing the actuals to the final forecast.
The big news is the incoming storm. It is all over the media now. But we have been tracking this pattern that could bring big storms for the beginning of March for weeks now, and tracking this storm for a couple weeks. Over the last several days there has been no change to the forecast for several feet of snow. The forecast models have been in remarkable agreement and consistent which gives a lot of confidence in the forecast.
I'm so excited about this storm I could burst. This is the perfect setup for a cold storm to bring feet of powder. We don't see this setup often, but when we do I get beyond excited with a permanent smile stuck on my face. We have an area of low pressure that will setup off the Pacific NW coast by Thursday morning.
That will allow this storm to pull in moisture off the ocean. Not an atmospheric river, but plenty of moisture with cold temps to boost snow ratios. Thursday the cold front comes through bringing the first round of heavy snowfall. We will see high winds with this feature.
Thursday night the 2nd wave of heavy snowfall should rotate in off the ocean. By Friday morning you can see the low is still sitting off the coast.
The latest model runs show a break during the day Friday with only light scattered snow showers. We may even see some peaks of sun and people declaring the storm over. Always a fun fake out by mother nature ahead of the main area of low pressure moving inland. Friday night the main low should move into Northern CA bringing the 3rd round of heavy snowfall.
Then lingering snow showers into Saturday before the storm moves East and we finally see an end to the snowfall by Saturday night. So the total forecast won't be on the ground Friday morning or even Saturday morning, we will have to wait until Sunday morning to total it all up.
The forecast has not changed much. The GFS and European models are in almost perfect agreement this morning showing up to 3.4 inches of liquid near the Sierra crest.
The rest of the models are all sitting around 3 inches. So good agreement. So good I'm ready to issue the final forecast, but we still have another day to adjust. I know some of you check in every morning expecting the models to cancel the storm, but this storm should be a lock. The totals we can't be sure of but we at least know they are feet and not inches.
Based on the latest model runs for total precip and temperatures here is the forecast. Not much different than the last few days. 1.5-3 feet at lake level, and 2.5-4+ feet on the mountains. Someone could reach 5 feet depending on where the heaviest snowfall hits. Some model runs show NW of the lake and some SW.
A million questions about travel with this storm. It will be a mess and a slow go. The problem is that someone usually crashes which can close the road, and then you are stuck for hours in your car getting buried in the snow. I-80 was closed yesterday going East because of a crash. So if i you have chains and 4wd you can drive but it takes hours to get anywhere during these big storms, and if someone crashes and the road closes you can get stuck. During high winds like Thursday they can close the highway for low visibility as well. So if you have to travel you should do it tomorrow.
After this storm we have a break Sunday through Wednesday with highs in the 30's. We are seeing a pattern change next week with the trough further off the coast. How far is still up in the air. The GFS is still further off the coast than the Euro.
There is another storm that could be sitting off the coast by next Tuesday. With the GFS pattern it keeps most of the storm to our North with a weakening moisture feed pushing in by Wed-Thu. We are on the warm side of this moisture feed that is tapping some warmer air, so we would see a weaker, and warmer storm.
The European model runs show the storm sitting closer to the coast drawing in heavier moisture into Northern CA, and not quite as warm as the GFS. So we could be seeing warmer storm next week. The question be how warm and how wet as the low slowly pushes into the coast Wed-Fri.
There is decent agreement that the trough stays near the West Coast into the middle of March keeping the pattern active. Maybe with colder storms the 2nd week of March.
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