Tahoe Daily Snow

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From the Road!...


The Weather:

The hot and dry weather continues this weekend, with not much end in sight.  It doesn't look like much moisture will make it as far North as Tahoe this week.  We may cool down slightly the 2nd half of the week.

The main weather story is the smoke.  There are fires burning all over the state of CA blowing smoke into the area.  One of the biggest is the Carr fire near Redding, CA that I'm sure you are all aware of now.  My in-laws live on the East side of town so their house is safe, but my wife has friends who lost their house on the West side of town.  

Not much we can do now but hope for the best as we wait out 2-3 more months of dry season.

The Winter:

The El Nino hype is starting to grow a little as the forecast for an El Nino this Winter by the CPC continues.  A lot of the hype is still from the large precipitation totals from the 97/98 El Nino.  That was a very strong El Nino, but so was 15/16 and that hit the Pacific NW.  Not all El Ninos are wet for the state of CA.  That time they were that wet for the whole state was 97/98, and 94/95 El Ninos.  94/95 was a moderate El Nino.

Taking all El Nino events since 1950 we only have average precipitation amounts for most of CA.

all el ninos

So should we get excited and hype up an early forecast for the chance of an El Nino season?  Probably not...

In fact, weak El Nino years see below average precipitation historically.


It's not until you reach moderate El Nino conditions that we start to see above average precipitation on average historically.


Interestingly, it backs off for Strong El Ninos, with Tahoe seeing below average precipitation.


Then for very strong El Nino years it jumps...

very strong

For very strong it is only 3 years, 82/83, 97/98, and 15/16.  15/16 as we remember was below average for us.  That was blamed on the modoki El Nino position with the warmest water centered towards the Central Pacific, and the warm blob of water off the West Coast.  So as you can see, not any reason to get excited, unless the forecast was for a very strong El Nino, which it is not currently.

When looking at snowfall it doesn't always correlate to the total precipitation as a % of average.  If we get a lot of warm storms we seen rain or low snow ratios.  We can see above average snowfall in below average precipitation years with the colder air and higher snow ratios, and the opposite for the years with more warm storms.

For snowfall, Tahoe actually averages more snowfall compared to average in La Nina than in El Nino seasons, 107% versus 98%.  Breaking down the the 98% for El Nino, it's 75% of average snowfall in weak El Nino years, 123% in moderate El Nino years, and 104% in strong El Nino years.

Right now there is warming of the water along the equator, and the forecast models show that continuing into the Winter.  That is why the CPC has a forecast currently of 70% chance for El Nino developing for the Winter.  But it's too early for them to predict how strong it will be.  Some of the models show weak to moderate strength.


The other thing the models hint at however, is a modoki position with the warmest water further West along the equator.  As we saw in 15/16 that can shift the weather pattern over the U.S. versus when the warmest water is further East near South America.  

Obviously we are hoping for at least a moderate El Nino this Winter.  Breaking down those years however, we only average 93% of average snowfall in a warm PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) pattern, versus 145% of average snowfall in a cold PDO year!!  I'll let you look up the difference in the sea surface temperature pattern.  The water has been cooling in the Pacific, and for the first time since 2013 the PDO has dipped slightly negative 2 of the last 4 months.

But overall looking at the current SST's, the water is moving and mixing, and changing, with no clear indicator this summer of what the El Nino or PDO pattern will look like.

current ssts

It's still only July, so a lot can or will change by the Fall and Winter.  The forecast models are still not that good at forecasting the sea surface temperatures.  The best they can do is hint towards El Nino or La Nina this time of year.  But history says we want a moderate El Nino with a cold PDO,  3 out of 4 of those winters we saw above average snowfall and the 4th 91%.  

We will keep watching through the Summer.  We use these and other factors to come up with a guess on the seasonal snowfall forecast in the Fall.

The Road:

The road trip this past week has been busy but amazing.  As of the last blog we were stopped in Washington after leaving the North Cascades National Park.  Our next stop was Glacier National Park.

The drive to Montana was just as beautiful as the rest of the trip...


We spent 2 days there exploring, hiking, and then cooling off with some swimming and lounging in the lake.


The kids took a cool class on wolves.  We were hoping to see some, but no luck.  Just some deer and elk.  But the park is amazing!

Then we headed South and stayed the night in McCall Idaho.  If you have never driven the back roads of Idaho, you are missing out.  They like to directly follow the rivers.  Here is a snapshot of part of our drive...


When I was in the hotel business I did a stint at a hotel there for a few months.  We love McCall.  Small town with a beautiful lake, and it has a couple ski resorts as well, and a short drive into the wilderness.


The next day we traveled through Southern Idaho.  We stopped at Sun Valley to visit an old friend from Truckee.  He was actually my first boss when I moved to Tahoe.  He gave us a tour of the remodeled resort.  I can't wait to go back during ski season!

sun valley

Thursday we drove over Teton Pass into the Grand Teton National Park.  If you have not driven over the pass it is very steep.  The RV was not liking it too much.  I had to keep manually shifting into 1st gear as I was afraid I was going to slow to a stop with the pedal to the floor, haha.  But it was worth it as we dipped into Jackson and then into the Grand Teton park.

grand tetons

I got a comment on this picture on the Instagram page from a reader wanting to know if I bagged those peaks.  As much as I would love to have stayed and climbed them, I'm getting plenty of exercise with the 3 year old attached to my back on most walks and hikes everyday.  There wouldn't be any room on my back for a pack to hike up.  That's another trip...  As you can see the kids are loving it, or maybe just loving getting out of the car after a long drive?

We kept going and spent the afternoon starting to explore Yellowstone National Park.  This was the start of seeing a lot of amazing things, as Yellowstone definitely lives up to the hype.

blue opal

Friday we spent the entire day continuing to explore the park.  We drove the entire loop and more, and I think we got out to see most things on the map.  Exhausting but totally worth it, even the long hike down and up to the waterfalls with the monkey on my back, haha.  


My wife's goal was to finally see a bear or a wolf.  Still no luck, but she was satisfied by all the buffalo!


All of the steaming vents, pools, and geysers were amazing.  But in the back of my mind I was thinking about the fact I was standing on a super volcano that was bubbling all around me.  At least if it blew I would have front row seats.  So most of the day was seeing steaming pools and buffalo, and sometimes buffalo standing in steaming pools...

buffalo in steam

I also loved the rock formations that would pop up in places they looked out of place in.  Overall we had an amazing couple of days in the park!


Yellowstone is so big with so much to see versus a main attraction like the other parks so far.  We are now up to 8 National Parks so far.  Here is a look at the map of the journey through today, which we spent driving to Custer, South Dakota.


Tomorrow is the start of our 3rd week on the road.  We start at Wind Cave National Park and on from there.  I will update again next weekend with the recap...

As for the RV it is still kicking.  There are a few things I want to check out when we stop in NJ, but overall it's running which is all I can ask for!  However, this morning as I was driving through the middle of nowhere all of a sudden I heard a clanging noise.  I knew right away something broke and was dragging.  I hopped out and saw that I was dragging the muffler to the generator, so no generator for now...  I nice cowboy came out of nowhere and offered to help, but it was a quick fix to cut it loose.

Some of you asked about the dog last time as well.  She is still having a blast.  She is eating very well as she is getting more leftovers than usual.  We can't always take her on hikes at the sites, but she is always interested in where we are going...


So that's it for now, a short post I know, haha.  Time for bed and back on the road in the morning.  Thanks for tuning in.  I'll have more on the upcoming season as well going through August.  And don't forget you can follow along daily on the BAs Summer Adventures Instagram page.

Stay tuned...BA

P.S.  we are working away on adding all the new mountains around the country to the Opensummit app.  I will let you know when all the Tahoe mountains are completed.  We are also working on a remodel of the website and apps for this season!