Tahoe Daily Snow

The Tally...


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I have a long post today for you data nerds.  I want to tally up the numbers and see where we stand compared to other years.  We also have another 5 day storm coming so a lot to talk about with that as well, so hold on...

The Data:

Here are the final numbers for the storm.  Yesterday was another over producer NW of the lake where 5-8 more inches of snow fell.  Everyone else was within the forecast with 1-4 inches of snow.  That brings the totals to 57-105 inches!


Some people have questioned the 100" totals NW of the lake at those 3 mountains.  They seem legit to me as those mountains were in line with the others until that band of snow that sat NW of the lake Friday evening dumped 40 inches over those mountains.  I don't think anyone is complaining because we have now seen 10-16 feet so far this month, with more on the way!

For the keep me honest report I have it in feet rounded to the nearest half foot instead of inches with such a big storm.  I had a forecast 5 days ago before the storm started of 2.5 - 6 feet, and we ended up with 5 - 9 feet.  Definitely a storm to remember!


Looking at the stats we have had a big comeback for snowfall this season.  The total precipitation vs average was much higher than the snowfall vs average most of the season due to warm storms.  The cold storms the last 4 weeks have boosted the snowfall vs average above the precipitation.  The total snowfall the last 4 weeks is not the only impressive thing, but these storms also had high snow ratios.


We are still below average at 87% YTD on the upper mountains, and the snowpack is still below average.  We still have a lot of catching up to do, but we were at the bottom of the bucket for snowfall 4 weeks ago.  Going into the 3rd week of February we were tied with and falling below one of the lowest snowfall years on record 1977.  You can see I drew in a line to where we were in black.


Since then we have skyrocketed out of the bottom 10 least snowy years.  I drew in another black line to show where the line could go after the next storm.  Pretty incredible.  The term Miracle March is being thrown around a lot so let's look at every March since 1970.


Many people say the term "Miracle March" was coined in 1991 when over 200 inches of snow fell.  That season only 84 inches of snow had fallen as of the end of February, compared to the 104 inches this season.  Basically how we looked mid-February.  So going from 84 to 286 inches in one month is a Miracle.  Other big March's like 1982 and 2011 saw 344 and 373 inches respectively before the month started, so although it was a big March it wasn't really a needed Miracle, just a lot of snow on top of a lot of snow.

So far this March we have gone from 104 to 253 inches, with more snow on the way this week.  So I would call that a close 2nd to the Miracle March of 1991, and I think we can now officially use the term to describe this month!

Please note that for the snowfall so far for this March I am guestimating the Central Sierra Snow Lab amount for these graphs as the final numbers don't come out until the end of the month.  The previous years are all from the Central Sierra Snow Lab official stats.

The Forecast:

Ok, so we have seen a lot of snow the last few weeks, and some of you are tired of shoveling even though you begged for the snow, but we have more to deal with this week.  We have another complicated forecast ahead with many moving pieces.

We have a break today into Monday with sun, light winds, and temperatures in the 30's warming into the 40's.  Tuesday we have increasing clouds and winds with lift issues possible by afternoon.  An area of low pressure off the coast will help to direct an atmospheric river of moisture into Southern CA, with light rain reaching us by Tuesday afternoon.

With this storm we have model disagreement on the placement of the moisture stream into CA, but most model runs keep the precip much lighter over Tahoe compared to farther South.  The European model is further North with the heavier amounts Tuesday through Wednesday and the GFS is much lighter keeping it South as you can see below.


The snow levels are sitting around 7000-7500 feet during this time, and if the precip is lighter I would lean towards higher snow levels.  So above 8,000 feet through Wednesday we could see several inches of heavy wet snow.  Sitting at your house at lake level this is a non-event through Wednesday, so don't ask where the storm is.

Then Wednesday night low pressure off the coast is forecast to move up along the CA coast pushing in some heavier snowfall with snow levels dropping to around 7,000 feet.  This is when we could see around 6-12 inches of dense snow on the mountains.

Thursday a cold front swings through dropping snow levels well below lake level.  We should see heavy snowfall for all elevations for several hours with the front, and increasing snow ratios on the mountains.  This is when we could see several inches for all elevations.  

Here is a look at the snowfall potential for the first round, which starts warm and ends cold.  Generally 1-2 feet possible above 7,000 feet.


The snow showers could continue behind the front Thursday night with several more inches.  Then the forecast models show a bit of a break on Friday before another wave dives into CA behind the cold front by Friday night.  This is when we could see another 6-12 inches of fluffier snow.

The European model cuts off the snow showers behind that wave by Saturday morning.  The GFS model brings the main area of low pressure through CA Saturday into Saturday night with more snowfall.  This is where the difference in the forecast could really be, with the track of the final two waves behind the front Friday and Saturday.  If the GFS is right we could see several more inches before the storm finally ends next Sunday.

So basically a repeat of this past week with a storm moving in Tuesday afternoon with higher snow levels, a cold front, another wave, and the center of low pressure all possibly moving through continuing snowfall through Saturday on the mountains.  Like I said, this is another complicated forecast and all of the pieces have to come together right to get the forecast below, but they came together perfectly the last 2 storms which over delivered.

Here is a look at the European total precip forecast through Saturday.  It has up to 4 inches of liquid along the crest.  The other models all have 3-4 inches of liquid.  The GFS however has over 5 with that last round of precip with the low next Saturday.


Here is the initial forecast through next Saturday.  I don't usually forecast more than 5 days out in the blog, just the individual resort pages, but it's hard to stop a forecast halfway through a storm.


So we have another fun week ahead of fine tuning the snow levels and snowfall forecast.  Either way it looks like at least a couple more feet of snow on the way this week to add to the already big totals for March.


The long-range ensemble runs are compromising finally with a blend of the GFS/Euro forecasts we have been looking at the past week.  It looks like high pressure may finally build in over the West Coast going into the week of the 26th.  That should bring us some nice weather for the last week of the month.

Going into the first week of April their is some agreement now on the ridge moving up towards the Gulf of Alaska.  That could allow another trough to settle in over the West with some cooler air moving in and more unsettled weather.


I guess there is still a lot of work to do, but I deserve it after putting out 3 sentence forecasts for half the season. 

Stay tuned...BA


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