We have sunny skies today with light winds and highs in the 30's on the mountains to 40's at lake level. Tuesday clouds and winds increase with ridge top gusts to 50+ mph by afternoon. We could see light rain/snow showers move in by late afternoon. Expecting lighter rain/snow showers through Wednesday with snow levels around 7500 feet. Then heavier snow possible Wednesday night through Thursday night with snow levels slowly lowering to 7,000 feet Thursday and 6,000 feet by Thursday night. We could see 1-3 feet of snow on the mountains above 7,000 feet by Friday morning, and 4-11 inches at lake level. We may see a break on Friday before another wave brings several inches of snow Friday night into Saturday morning. The final piece of the storm moves through to our North on Sunday. Cold air in place for the weekend with highs only in the 20's on the mountains and 30's at lake level Fri-Sun. Next week we are expecting high pressure to build in over the area bringing a quite weather pattern. We may see unsettled weather return the week of April 2nd.
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Short Term Forecast
We had amazing weather yesterday behind the biggest storm of the season. That packed out the ski resorts for the 2nd time on Sunday this month. The positive vibes from everyone that has been skiing the last 2 weeks is off the charts. We have one more storm this week before we move into Spring.
Not much change in the overall forecast for the storm this week, but some changes in the details. This is a complex storm with a lot of moving parts just like the last 2. Below is a map I made this morning. It shows all the components that will converge on and bring moisture into CA over the next 5 days. I'll be referring to it several times below.
First is the atmospheric river streaming subtropical moisture into Southern CA Tuesday into Wednesday.
There is still model disagreement on how much of that makes it North into Tahoe. You can see on the GFS it keeps us pretty dry through Wednesday. Even with the moisture arriving ahead of the low moving in as the flow is southerly keeping the heaviest moisture stuck to the West of the crest.
The European model has more moisture making it into the area and more spillover into the basin into Wednesday. We don't want too much moisture from this first part of the storm as snow levels are sitting up around 7500' or a tad higher through Wednesday. Like I said yesterday, through Wednesday this should be a non-event in the Tahoe basin, so don't freak out when there's not much more than light rain showers at hour house. We could see 1-6 inches on the mountains during this time.
Then #2 on the map up top shows an area of low pressure that will move into Central CA Wednesday night bringing heavier snowfall. #3 shows the cold front bringing colder air and continuing heavier snowfall for Thursday. The latest trends today slow the cold air pushing in, so snow levels Wednesday night could stay up around 7500' or maybe a bit lower with heavier precip. We could see several more inches of thick snow above the snow line.
Thursday the cold front pushes through with snow levels falling below lake level by late afternoon. That makes the lake level forecast tricky for Thursday. I have 2-4 inches for now. Above 7,000 feet where it is all snow this could be the heaviest 12 hour period of snowfall for this storm. We could see 6-12 additional inches on the mountains, with snow ratios growing (lighter density).
Here is the updated snowfall forecast for this warmer part of the storm Tuesday through Thursday, with most of the snow falling Wednesday night through Thursday.
You can see the sharp drop in the forecast below the snow line. Thursday night behind the cold front we will see snow showers with higher snow ratios. We could see an additional 4-10 inches of snow on the mountains.
Then on Friday most of the models show a break in the action before feature #4, another wave of moisture behind the cold front, moves in Friday night. That could bring a final several inches of snowfall to the mountains. The snow showers should taper off Saturday morning and then we clear out into Sunday with cold air in place.
The last 2 big storms had #5 on the map above, the main area of low pressure behind the cold front, rotate in bringing a final hit of heavy snowfall. Some model runs were showing that for Saturday night into Sunday. The latest runs move the low inland well to our North keeping us dry now. We will have to watch to see if there is a shift South over the next few days.
Here is the updated total snowfall forecast by Saturday.
As you can see, there are a lot of pieces to the this storm and a lot of questions. How far North will the moisture from the AR push? What will the snow levels be with the area of low pressure moving in Wednesday night? How fast to snow levels drop with the cold front Thursday? How much moisture will there be with the secondary wave behind the front Friday night? Where will the low moving inland Saturday night track?
The last 2 big storms didn't have a warm atmospheric river to start. But the rest of the pieces came together perfectly with direct hits and high amounts of moisture that brought the highest snowfall potential out of those storms. This storm is warmer to start with cold air moving in more slowly, and it looks like not all the pieces will take a direct aim. So I'm definitely expecting much less snowfall and thicker heavier snowfall, especially the first few days.
Below the WPC's total precipitation forecast through Saturday showing up to 5 inches of liquid near the crest. The model average is closer to 4 inches. So this storm does have a lot moisture to work with. For now I like the forecast above showing 1-3+ feet by Saturday.
Next week it looks like high pressure will be building in over the West Coast bringing dry weather and warming temperatures.
There are still signs that the first week of April we could see more storms try to push into the West Coast. But in the Spring the storms are usually much weaker.
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