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Tahoe Daily Snow

Windy with 2 Storms This Week...


- Slight clearing for Monday morning, cold with highs in the 20s on the upper mountains and 30s at lake level. Increasing clouds in the afternoon. Winds gusting to 50+ mph over the ridges, increasing to 80+ mph by late afternoon. - A cold and snowier system moves in Monday evening with scattered snow showers lingering into Tuesday. We could see 2-4 inches of snow on the east side of the lake, and 4-8 inches on the west side with this storm by Tuesday afternoon. Winds Tuesday could be gusting to 80+ mph over the ridges in the morning and 70+ in the afternoon, likely closing some upper mountain lifts. - We could see a break Tuesday night into Wednesday evening but it stays cold. Ridgetop winds gusting to 35+ mph early Wednesday morning and increasing to 55+ mph through the day. Highs in the 20s on the upper mountains and 30s at lake level. - A stronger storm moves in late Wednesday night into Thursday, with snow showers lingering into Thursday night. We could see 1-2 feet of powdery snow on the mountains, and 6-12+ inches at lake level. Winds gusting to 60+ mph on Thursday, possibly affecting some upper mountain lift operations. - A drier pattern begins to build in Friday through MLK weekend. We should see sunny skies Friday with lighter winds and still cold. Saturday we could see a weak system bring a few snow showers in the afternoon. Then nicer weather for Sunday into Monday. Highs warming into the 30s on the mountains over the weekend, and possibly 40s at lake level Sunday - Monday. The drier pattern may continue through the week of the 20th and to the end of the month. That doesn't mean that weaker systems couldn't push in next week, but overall expecting drier weather and below-average precipitation.


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Short Term Forecast

Weak Sunday Night System Recap:

It was windy Sunday night with orographic lift helping to fire up scattered snow showers over the mountains west of the crest overnight.


Those snow showers are fizzling out this morning. Most of the snow didn't blow over the crest into the Tahoe basin. So we picked up the low end of the forecast or less. The forecast was for a dusting to an inch on the east side of the lake and 1-3 inches on the west side. The ski resorts this morning are reporting a dusting to an inch NW of the lake, with nothing to a dusting east and south of the lake.


Some people are complaining about the hardpack still on the mountains. I've been skiing NW of the lake this week where 6-9 inches has accumulated over the last 6 days, and conditions are decent. It's east and south fo the lake where only 1-4 inches has fallen that we need more snow to refresh the slopes. The good news is that we should start to get some of that Monday night into Tuesday.


We have 2 more storms coming over the next 3 days that will bring more snow than the weak systems we have been seeing over the past week. I'm going to summarize the temperatures, winds, & snow levels for the storms, and then get into the snowfall.

We are in a colder pattern through the end of the week. Highs into the 30s at lake level and 20s on the upper mountains. It will feel even colder with the gusty winds all week.


The winds are going to be an issue at times throughout the week if you are trying to get a powder day. We will see some strong winds on the upper mountains through the week that could affect upper mountain lift operations at times, especially at wind-exposed mountains. The wind direction stays southwest through most of the week.

We had winds gusting to 80+ mph Sunday night that have come down this morning gusting to 50+ mph over the ridges from the southwest. Winds may dip in the middle of the day briefly, then later Monday afternoon the winds come up fast and strong. The latest model runs show the 80+ mph winds starting right around when the ski resorts are closing at 4 PM.

Those winds are still gusting to 80+ mph Tuesday morning and could continue to gust to 70+ mph through Tuesday afternoon, likely closing some upper mountain lifts through the day. For Wednesday, the winds may be lighter first thing in the morning only gusting to 30+ mph, but then increasing to 60+ mph by afternoon as the next storm approaches. Then for Thursday winds could be gusting to 60+ mph through most of the day.

This means that the two powder days, Tuesday and Thursday, we could also see the strongest winds. Which could mean there is still untouched snow up high for Wednesday and Friday mornings making them powder days as well.

Snow Levels:

Snow levels will not be an issue with these cold storms. We could see snow levels dip to around 4,000 ft. Monday night into Tuesday.  This means snow ratios will be around 12:1 or better on the lower mountains and 15:1 for the upper mountains making a dry powdery snow.

For the next storm moving in Wednesday night, snow levels could drop below 4,000 ft. Then below 3,000 ft. Thursday and below 2,000 ft. Thursday night. That would bring snow ratios to 15:1 or better on the lower mountains by the end of the 3rd storm, and 20:1 for the upper mountains. Rockies style powder.


For Monday we will have some sun and clouds with increasing clouds and winds in the afternoon as the next storm approaches. We can see the next system diving in from the NW this morning on satellite.


Monday Night - Tuesday Storm:

The next storm will move in Monday evening. The latest model runs are trending a little wetter again this morning. The latest range on the models is 0.3 - 0.7 inches of total precipitation west of the lake near the crest with up to 0.25 inches on the east side of the lake. The 100 model average is 0.42 inches, but the deterministic model average is closer to 0.55 inches. The GFS and WPC models are the wettest this morning with up to 0.7 inches


The steadiest snow should fall overnight. The trend on the latest model runs is to continue a chance for scattered snow showers through most of the day on Tuesday and then clearing out by Tuesday evening.

I don't like the big range still on the models. This is a cold storm with strong winds and the jet stream dipping towards Tahoe. The storm weakens quickly as it moves south of the lake. The best chance to get the higher amounts will be NW of the lake again. Southwest of the lake I'd expect the lower end of the forecast, and south of the lake down towards Bear Valley I'd use the east side forecast. Dodge Ridge could see up to an inch or two and the snow fizzles before it hits Mammoth. Here is the final forecast.

final tuesday forecast


Wednesday morning first chair may have some sun and lighter winds and could be a very small window for nicer weather on the upper mountains. The latest model runs have moved up the timing of stronger winds moving in to mid-morning Wednesday. We could see gusts to 50+ mph by late morning over the ridges and to 60+ mph in the afternoon. We may see the sun peeking out through most of the day as the arrival of the next storm has been delayed.

Wednesday Night - Thursday Night Storm:

The next storm is the strongest since the beginning of December. The latest model runs show some scattered snow showers possibly breaking out ahead of the storm Wednesday evening, but they hold off on the steady snow pushing in until the early morning hours Thursday. We may only see an inch or two of snow by 4 a.m. on Thursday.

Expecting the heaviest snow to fall between 4 AM and 4 PM Thursday. Then scattered snow showers lingering into Thursday night before clearing out by Friday morning. Strong winds and powdery snow should create blowing snow and low visibility. I would not travel on Thursday.

thursday storm

The latest forecast model runs show a range of 0.9 - 1.35 inches of total precipitation near the crest, and good spillover to the east side of the lake. This storm digs farther off the coast picking up moisture and has good jet stream support and forcing with high snow ratios. So we are expecting a decent storm. The 100 model average shows 1.02 inches of total precip, but the deterministic models show 1.2 inches, and this morning the GFS & European model both show exactly the same at 1.35 inches.

Here is a look at the WPC model for total precipitation through Thursday night.

total precip through Thursday

You can see this storm pushes farther south all the way past Mammoth, so everyone will get in on the fresh snow this time. Not much change to the snowfall forecast this morning. Still showing 6-12+ inches for lake level, and 1-2 feet of new snow on the mountains. Highest amounts west of the lake along the crest.

forecast 2

Friday Into the Holiday Weekend:

Friday we should see the sun come out and winds die down. It should be a good day for skiing with the fresh snow. The temperatures are still cold with highs in the 20s on the upper mountains and 30s at lake level.

For MLK weekend we are in a transitionary period between two patterns. The trough that has been sitting over the West is lifting out and high pressure is beginning to build in. There is another storm that tries to push into CA Saturday. Most model runs have it fizzling out before it reaches the Sierra, but a few still show it pushing far enough south for light snow showers Saturday afternoon/evening. So we will continue to keep an eye on that.

Overall, we are expecting a mostly sunny MLK weekend with slightly warmer temperatures. Highs into the 30s on the mountains and 40s for lake level by Sunday into Monday.

Extended Forecast

Going into the week of the 20th the ridge should become more established over the West, with the trough off the coast.


It doesn't look like that strong of a ridge and the trough is sitting just off the coast. Storms will likely try to push into the West Coast but will weaken. All of the models this morning try to push a weakening storm in some fashion into CA next Tuesday - Wednesday. So we will keep an eye on that as well.

Overall expecting a drier pattern through the end of the month. The long-range models suggest that high-pressure could expand off the coast with less of a chance for any storms through the last week of the month. Here is a look at the GEFS ensemble mean run for total precipitation anomaly through the end of the month, showing below-average precipitation for CA and most of the West starting Friday.

below average precip

After we get through the storms this week, we will likely be spending a lot of time analyzing the patterns and looking for when we may see a flip back to a stormy pattern for CA.

Stay tuned...BA

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