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Tahoe Daily Snow

Dry Start to November...


- Sunny and mild weather expected for Monday and Tuesday. Highs in the 60s and inversions at night with lows near freezing in the valleys and in the 40s for the upper elevations. - Slighter cooler air possible for Wednesday into the weekend, but still slightly above average. Highs near 60 degrees at lake level and 50s for the upper elevations. Overnight lows in the 20s at lake level and near freezing for the upper elevations. - The long-range forecast models show a dry weather pattern possibly persisting through mid-month. Maybe a change the 3rd week of November?


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Short Term Forecast

The cold air from last week moved east where the snow has been flying in the northeast and some ski resorts have been opening. The dry pattern continues for us right now along with some milder temperatures. The forecast models show the ridge over the West Coast weakening slightly next weekend, but they show the pattern fairly stuck over the next 2 weeks with a trough near the Aleutians and ridge over the West Coast.


The storms over the Pacific are pretty weak or non-existent. We may have another two weeks of dry weather ahead as most of the forecast models are showing.


With the stagnant pattern, we have started to see inversions at night where the temperatures are warmer in the higher elevations and colder in the valleys. That can make it harder or impossible to make snow on the mountains. Many of the ski resorts are working hard to make snow at night to get open in the next 2-3 weeks. But overnight lows in the 40s will make it impossible to make snow on the upper mountains.

With the dry air, you can make snow in temperatures near to just above freezing. The overnight lows are marginal for snowmaking later this week for the upper mountains, but better for the lower elevations. We are stuck making snowmaking forecasts right now and hoping for a few runs to open at the ski resorts by Thanksgiving. This is not uncommon for Tahoe, we usually have a better chance of seeing storms the 2nd half of November.

Extended Forecast

October had only 3mm of total precipitation recorded at the Snow Lab, and only a dusting of snow was seen above 8k. With a dry start to November and no big storms in the forecast, the long-range climate models show November ending up below average for precipitation as well.

november precip

During the dry years, I tend to spend a lot of time in the long-range looking for signs of a pattern change. Not where I like to spend my time as the models lose all their skill beyond 2 weeks and we rely on looking at teleconnections. We sometimes are grasping at straws or chasing a vanishing pattern. In the dry years, the forecast models consistently would show storms 2 weeks out that then disappeared with a week.

If November ends up dry we may be off to a dry start for the season. Even in dry November we usually see at least some snowfall. The only November of the last 50 years with no snow recorded at the Central Sierra Snow Lab was 1995. But that year isn't on the graph below of the top 10 lowest snowfall starts to the season. It has to stay low through at least December.  Last season was the only season with a top 10 low snowfall start to finish above average for snowfall. 

dry starts

5 of the last 8 years are on the top 10 for low snowfall starts. But it is still very early this season. Things can change quickly. It only takes one week of storms and we can see 100 inches of snow that changes everything.

Will It Ever Snow?...

Looking at a couple of possibly encouraging signs... The MJO (Madden Julian Oscillation) activity was forecast to die off over the colder water of the eastern Indian Ocean as I posted about last week. But the latest forecasts show it emerging again near the Maritime Continent and picking up as it moves through the western Pacific over the next 2 weeks.

madden julian oscillation

Initially, that could just mean the ridge stays over the West Coast, but if it continues through the eastern Pacific it may help to shift the pattern beyond mid-month and maybe we could see an extended jet stream try to push storms into CA.

The jet stream forecast right now shows weak and splitting jet stream out in the Pacific, and then a stronger jet stream in the western Pacific next week that fades in the eastern Pacific. It's not until beyond mid-month that the models start to show a stronger and extended jet stream across the Pacific with a trough trying to dig into the eastern Pacific.

jet stream

Maybe that is a sign that some stronger storms could start to spin up in the eastern Pacific and try to push into the West Coast and CA. We'll see... The CFSv2 shows higher chances for precipitation from the 16th-26th of November for northern CA.

northern ca

For now, we likely have at least 10 days to 2 weeks of dry weather and we will have to rely on hoping for cold nights for snowmaking. The goal with seeing possible pattern changes 2 weeks out is to get them into the less than 2 weeks window and then the 1-week window...

In the meantime, I decided to take the family to see a couple more national parks. We are working on getting to every park over the next few years. If you followed along with the summer forecasts the last 2 summers you saw us visit 37 parks bringing our total to 40. We are adding two this week starting with Volcano National Park a few days ago...

volcano national park

...and we are heading to Haleakala today. I figured it was a good week to go for more hikes to keep my mind off of anxiety of another dry start to the season. I'll be back and ready to go when the snow does fly. I'm tracking storms daily and I'll be posting all the CA blogs daily in a couple of weeks when the ski resorts open. Let's hope we spend a lot of time forecasting snowfall this season and not chasing 2-week ghosts.

Stay tuned...BA


Mt. Rose is currently the only ski resort open for the season, operating weekends Friday-Sunday with 1 lift and 5 trails.

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