- We will see a break Tuesday through Thursday with a chance for scattered showers Wednesday. Best chances south of the lake. Snow level could drop to around 7,000 feet. Highs in the 30s with lighter winds. - The next storm looks like it will move in Friday afternoon/evening lasting into Sunday. This storm will have falling snow levels and could bring 1-3 feet of new snow to the mountains by Saturday night. Snow levels could start just above lake level but fall with the cold front, so expecting mainly all snow for the Tahoe Basin. - We may see a break after that to start the week of the 9th. The forecast models disagree on how long the pattern change to a drier pattern will last. They show better chances for a more active pattern after mid-month.
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Short Term Forecast
We have the final tally from the ski resorts for the storm and the last 7 days. They are impressive for the upper mountains. We also have another big storm on the way for this weekend.
We saw rising snow levels and showers Monday before the moisture feed completely shutoff during the evening. Ski resorts measuring below 7500 feet had pretty much no additional snowfall. For the upper mountains, we have reports of 1-8 inches for the north side of the lake, and on the south side 8-13 inches. The showers hung on longer on the south side.
The storm totals at lake level up to 6500 feet were 0 with just rain up to 7 inches of wet snow. From 6500-7000 feet around 7-12 inches. 7000-7500 feet around 7-19 inches. The upper mountains above 7500 feet are reporting storm totals of 19-52 inches. The higher the elevation and southwest of the lake got the highest amounts. Typical of a warm storm to have big increases in snowfall with elevation.
7-day totals for the upper mountains of 40-95 inches, or 3.5 to nearly 8 feet at Kirkwood!
The image above is from the base of Kirkwood. It looks mid-winter. A very dramatic change from dirt a week ago. The upper mountains are in good shape, but the ski resorts will need a few days to catch up and build trails in order to open more terrain. We went from 0% of average for the date last Tuesday to 127% of average today for the upper mountains! 18% of the annual average.
The keep me honest forecaster scorecard is always a little messy in these storms with fluctuating snow levels. I usually adjust the lower ski resorts to the 7k forecast and the higher ones to the 9k forecast during warm storms in order to account for big differences in snowfall at short elevation changes. Looking at the scorecard for the final forecast issued Saturday morning versus storm totals this morning, 6 ski resorts ended up with more snow than forecast (green), 4 ended up right on the forecast (white), and 4 ended up coming in under forecast (red).
Tuesday - Thursday:
We have cloudy skies Tuesday, we could see a little clearing later in the day. The clouds may hang around through Wednesday as the low off the coast moves through Southern CA.
We could get brushed with a few showers Wednesday south of the lake. Snow levels could be around 7000 feet. Not expecting more than a dusting on the mountains.
Then Thursday we may see the sun come out. Lighter winds all 3 days. Highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s. The ski resorts should be able to make some snow on the lower mountains if they need to fill in some spots.
The Weekend Storm:
Believe it or not, we have another big storm inbound for the weekend. The latest trend this morning is a longer duration storm that now may last into the day on Sunday.
We have the initial cold front moving in later in the afternoon Friday into Saturday night. It is drawing in some subtropical moisture. We should see heavy precipitation Friday night. Snow levels may drop below lake level initially with the dry air and evaporational cooling. They may then come up near lake level and hover in the 6000-6500 foot range Friday night.
Saturday we may see light-moderate showers with a slight gap between the front and the next round of heavy precipitation as the low comes inland into northern CA Saturday night. Snow levels may continue to sit right around 6,000 feet Saturday and then fall near 5500 feet Saturday night.
The latest model runs keep the snow going into Sunday before a quick shut-off by Sunday evening. Snow level may continue to lower Sunday down to 5000 feet. Friday night and Saturday night alone could drop a foot of snow each with several inches more Saturday and Sunday on the mountains. For lake level, it could be all snow, half snow, or somewhere in the middle until snow levels fall lower Saturday.
The GFS and European models are wetter this morning, the Euro now shows up to 3.6 inches of total precipitation near the crest. The GFS on the 6z run was showing a crazy 5.8 inches but has pulled back to 4 inches on the 12z run. The 100 model average is closer to 2.7 inches.
Based on that and the snow level forecast here is the updated snowfall forecast. It does look like more shadowing Friday night/Saturday with the orientation of the southerly flow with the front, then more spillover to the east side of the lake Saturday night/Sunday.
Expecting strong winds affecting upper mountain lifts Friday into Saturday. South/Southwest winds gusting to 60+ mph. Travel will be difficult this weekend through the Sierra. But this storm should set up the ski resorts very nicely for next week. I'm expecting a lot of terrain expansion.
We clear out Sunday night with a drier pattern to start the week of the 9th as the ridge builds over the West Coast.
The long-range models are still at odds with the forecast. The GFS ensembles show a more amplified ridge over the West Coast through the 2nd week of December keeping storms to the north.
The Canadian and European ensemble models show a weaker/flatter ridge off the coast with more storms by the 12th. We will continue to watch the long-range pattern evolve. Even with a break in the storms we will have a lot of snow to ski on by Monday.
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