Tuesday light rain and snow showers expected with snow levels around 8,000 feet falling to 7,000 feet during the afternoon. Some heavier precip possible over the passes and along the Sierra Crest. Later Tuesday afternoon and evening heavier snowfall arrives and snow levels drop below lake level. High winds with ridge top gusts to 80 mph. The snow continues in varying intensities through Saturday as several waves of precipitation move through the region. We are expecting several feet of snow to pile up on the mountains by Saturday and a couple feet possible at lake level as well. Winds will be gusty up high through Friday. We could have a break Saturday through Monday, but then more storms could move through with more snowfall next week.
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Short Term Forecast
It's Tuesday morning and the fun is about to begin. It's time to put out the final forecast for the storm through Saturday, and then the next few days make some daily adjustments if necessary. I'll break the storm down by 12 hour periods based on what I'm seeing on the latest model runs.
The forecast models are finally in good agreement, of course waiting until the storm is starting to agree. The GFS and European models are almost identical now. The only differences being a slightly wetter GFS tonight and a slightly wetter Euro on Friday night. The GFS had a run yesterday that had up to 7 inches of liquid near Kirkwood causing some forecasts to show up to 100" of snow off the one run, but it has now come back to reality.
We see the area of low pressure spinning off the coast this morning and the cold front off the coast pushing East.
There is precipitation moving from South to North and slowly Eastward towards the area.
With the Southerly flow most of the heaviest precip should stay near and West of the Sierra crest today, with much lighter amounts into the Tahoe basin. Winds have been gusting to 80 mph this morning on the ridge tops and that should continue through the day causing lift closures. Snow levels started around 9,000 feet last night and are around 8,000 feet this morning. Temperatures continue to slowly fall.
We should see snow levels continue to slowly come down through the day, reaching 7,000 feet by early afternoon. Possibly faster along the crest during times of heavier precipitation. We could see an inch or two of snow above 8,000 feet today East of the crest on the mountains across the Tahoe basin. West of the lake and along the crest we could see 3-4 inches of snowfall.
This evening we will see the cold front push in bringing in heavier precip and colder air. It will force the heavier precipitation into the Tahoe basin as well. Snow levels should drop pretty quickly below lake level during the evening. We should see moderate to heavy snowfall for several hours with the cold front, and then light to moderate snow showers behind the front during the early morning hours.
We could see an additional 8-21 inches of snow on the mountains by Wednesday morning, and 7-15 inches at lake level. The highest amounts on the West side of the lake.
Wednesday we should start to have a break with the snow showers confined to the mountains, and the heaviest snow showers along the crest. We could see an additional 1-3 inches of snow during the day. Winds look lighter but could still gust to 50 mph on the ridge tops.
Scattered and light snow showers continue with another 1-3 inches of snow possible on the mountains.
Thursday we could see the biggest break in the snowfall ahead of the 2nd round of snow associated with the main area of low pressure moving into Northern CA. It's possible we could just see a dusting to 1 inch of snow. Winds may pick back up again with ridge gusts to 60 mph.
Round I Summary:
Here is a look at the total precipitation forecast for the first round on the NAM model, show up to 2+ inches of liquid along the crest.
Here is the total snowfall forecast for round one based on the GFS/Euro average.
As low pressure approaches the coast another round of heavy snow is expected to move in Thursday night. By Friday morning we could see an additional 7-12 inches on the mountains, and 6-10 inches at lake level.
Friday the heavier snowfall is expected to continue as low pressure moves inland keeping the snow going. We could see an additional 4-11 inches on the mountains, and 4-7 inches at lake level. Winds should come down a little for Friday but still gusty up high.
The European model keeps the moderate snowfall going into the evening while the GFS starts to wind things down with scattered and lighter snow showers. We could see an additional 2-7 inches on the mountains, and 2-5 inches at lake level.
The European model has us clearing out as the storm departs to the East. The GFS lingers light snow showers into the day on Saturday with another inch possible on the mountains. The winds should come down.
Round II Summary:
The total precip amounts for round two look similar to round one. The European model almost doubles the total precip round two, and the GFS is not as wet. But the colder temperatures and higher snow ratios with round 2 will mean we could double the snowfall from round 1. Here is the snowfall forecast for round 2 Thursday night through Saturday.
In total the GFS shows up to 4.7 inches of liquid near the crest and the Euro up to 4.5 inches. So very close to each other now. The WPC's blended model forecast shows the same with up to 4.5 inches, so good model agreement now as the storm is starting.
Here is the final snowfall forecast for the storm. 2-5+ feet on the mountains and 1.5 - 3.5+ feet at lake level possible. I have had out a forecast of 2-4 feet for the mountains since last Wednesday, so not much change over the last several days. We may need some daily adjustments over the next few days. But this is the final forecast I will grade myself on Sunday morning when we look at totals.
High temperatures should be in the 20's on the mountains and 30's at lake level Wednesday-Saturday.
It looks like we could have a break in the storms Sunday into Monday. Then an area of low pressure sets up off the coast by next Tuesday. The forecast models are not in agreement on the details.
The GFS brings in a quick hit of snow next Tuesday-Wednesday as the low moves down the coast and inland well to our South. The European model has the low stalled off the coast Tuesday and beyond sending in moisture for days. That would be an interesting scenario with another prolonged snowfall event.
For now just expecting the active weather to continue next week. There are still signs that we could see high pressure build in with an end to the train of storms the week of the 26th.
P.S. I'll be on the TahoeWeather social media, FB, Instagram, Twitter, with live updates throughout the storm.
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