Tahoe Daily Snow

Colder Week with Much Lighter Snows...

Summary

- Monday - Tuesday we should see some sun and light winds. Highs only in the '20s, and lows in the teens and single digits. Ridgetop winds gusting from the northeast at 25-35 mph. - The next cold system drops down from the north Wednesday into Thursday. This one looks much drier coming down over land, with only light snow showers expected. We could see 3-6 inches of powdery snow over the 2 days. Highs still in the 20's. - Friday & Saturday should be cold and dry with some sun. Highs in the 20's on the mountains to low 30's at lake level. - The next cold system drops down from the north Saturday night into Sunday. That could just brush us with some light snow. - The week of the 25th we could see a drier and milder pattern as high pressure builds over the West Coast. Then the storms may return starting around March 3rd.

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Short Term Forecast

Storm Totals:

What an impressive 17-day storm cycle.  We just saw 14-23 feet fall on the mountains over the last 17 days, and most of that was fluffy powdery snow.  We even saw feet of snow pile up at lake level.  The sun is finally breaking through the clouds this morning shining over a buried Tahoe basin.

the sun

The snow showers on Sunday dropped another 7-14 inches of powdery snow on the mountains.  That was once again at the high end to just over the high end of the forecast.  There was some upslope enhancement in NV yesterday as the flow turned northeast, and some nice lake-effect snow bands formed during the evening off of Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe.

lake effect

If the Heavenly 24-hr number of 31 inches is correct, they must have gotten enhancement from both yesterday. 

Here is the keep me honest report looking at totals vs the 3-day forecast from Friday morning.  You can see some mountains came in on forecast and the others that had the heaviest bands of snow sitting over them crushed the forecast with up to 3 feet over.  The forecast models struggle to forecast precip amounts with orographic enhanced convective showers over the mountains in these cold storms.

kmh

That brings the 6-day storm totals to 5-9+ feet!  Homewood fell just 1 inch short of a 10-foot storm series.  After only 17 days the February totals are at a record-breaking 14-23 feet!

stormtotals

That puts us at 101% of the seasonal averages already, and 166% for the date!  The total precip numbers are not keeping up with the snowfall numbers because of the high snow:water ratios with these cold storms. 

stats

Tahoe currently has the highest snowpack compared to average in the Western U.S.

snowpacks

The total precipitation amounts for CA so far for February have been impressive so far.

total feb water

The Forecast:

The cold trough is over the West Coast for another week.  That means more cold air and below average temperatures.  Highs only in the 20's through Friday.  Some sun Monday and Tuesday with a cold northeast breeze, gusting 25-35 mph on the mountain tops.  

trough

In this pattern, we could see a couple more cold systems drop down from the north.  But as we have been talking about all week, the trough is a bit east of where it was last week, and these systems will drop down over land with much less moisture.

Wednesday-Thursday System:

The next system drops down from the north Wednesday into Thursday.  The only question with this system seems to be does the center drop down the west side of the Sierra, the east side, or directly over.  That would only affect whether we see more snow on the west side mountains, east side, or even amounts across the Tahoe basin.

The latest forecast model runs show only 2-3 tenths of an inch of total precip over the basin. The latest trends seem to be leaning towards the center coming down the east side of the Sierra over Nevada.  That could mean more snow on the east side of the lake and some enhancement on that side from upslope flow from the east as the system goes by.

precip

Overall, this is a weak and cold system.  We could see an inch or two of powder Wednesday, another inch or two Wednesday night, and a final coating to an inch Thursday.  The best chance for an over could be for Mt. Rose and Heavenly, and we will watch for another lake effect band forming off of Lake Tahoe.  Here is the forecast showing a general 3-5 inches of powder in total over the 36-hour period.

forecast

Snow levels start around 3,000 feet and could drop to "0" feet Wednesday night.  So we could see a dusting of snow down to very low levels in the foothills.

Then we should clear out again Friday into Saturday with some sun and highs still in the 20's on the mountains, and low 30's for lake level.

Weekend System:

We could see another cold system drop down from the north Saturday night into Sunday brushing us with some light snow showers.  The latest model runs show only an inch or two.

Extended Forecast

Not much change to the long-range forecast.  We have been able to cut out a lot of the run to run model run noise all week.  The forecast continues to be cold and drier this week with inside sliders possible, and then high-pressure possibly building over the West Coast the week of the 25th bringing drier and milder weather.

ridge

The model runs showing a chance of under-cutting that I mentioned yesterday have trended back away from that idea again today.  

Fantasy Range:

As we go into the weekend of the 2nd we may have a better chance of storms starting to undercut the ridge.  Then we could see the ridge shift west the week of the 4th with a trough returning to the West Coast opening storm door back up.  The CFSv2 is still showing above average precip chances for week 3.

fantasy range

March is historically our 2nd snowiest month, averaging just 1 less inch than February at the Central Sierra Snow Lab over the past 50 years.  It wouldn't be a miracle to see big storms this March, but it would help us to have a big season.  If storms stop now we only end up at an average season.  I don't know if we see a big March, but I think we will see storms.

Stay tuned...BA

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