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Tahoe Daily Snow

January 14, 2014 10:21am PST


High pressure will build along the entire West Coast keeping storms away from the Western U.S. over the next 2 weeks.


High pressure will build along the entire West Coast keeping storms away from the Western U.S. over the next 2 weeks.


High pressure will build along the entire West Coast keeping storms away from the Western U.S. over the next 2 weeks.

In Other News:

With over 100 comments a day on the posts and growing it is getting harder to respond to all of the questions.  I will answer a few here.

1)  A lot of people are commenting about how they are still having fun skiing here in Tahoe despite the lack of snowfall:

On this site we are dedicated to forecasting the next snowfall and how much will fall on the mountains.  It's different than a weather site that forecasts all weather conditions for a specific region.  Because of that I tend to fast forward a lot to the next storm and when it's 2 weeks away I skip over what is currently happening.  If you read the site regularly during a season like this all you hear about is no natural snow falling from the sky.  

The ski resorts have been making snow though and many of them have plenty of snow for people to get out and go skiing and have an enjoyable day.  Many North facing slopes and shaded areas still have snow on the ground from the 2 feet we got the first week of December.  On the trail behind our lodge up here on Donner Summit there is still about a foot of soft snow in the woods.  The month of December the temperatures averaged 4 degrees below average, and the sun angle is low which has limited the melting.  I think many people are surprised that there is natural snow on the mountains since the last significant storm was 5 weeks ago.  

Grant Barta is a local photographer and journalist here in Tahoe and he regularly hikes and ski Sugar Bowl.  Saturday Sugar Bowl picked up 5 inches of snow and Grant sent me this photo on Sunday saying the skiing was actually pretty good.

Sugar Bowl 1-12 

2)  Do you see the forecast models showing retrogression of the ridge towards the end of the month?

Yes, but at this point I'm not sure how I feel about relaying anything I see in the models beyond 10 days.  There is actually agreement among all of the forecast models on the ridge retrograding out near the Aleutian Islands by the end of the month.  I don't want to get anyone's hopes up though.  I'll show you what I'm seeing.

Here is the ridge still along the West Coast 9 days from now on the 23rd.

ridge position 1-23

Now here are the ridge positions at the end of the month from the GFS, Canadian, and European models, in that order.




3)  Where do we stand compared with 1977 if we get no more snow in January?

I spent some time this morning playing with the data and making a new graph.  First I will show you an updated version of the graph I showed you at the end of December.  It shows the 7 seasons with the lowest starts for snowfall since 1970.  You can see that after low snowfall in January we will end up splitting away from every season except 1990-91 and 1976-77.  76/77 was the lowest snowfall season since 1881. I made a mistake yesterday and reversed 1999-2000 and 1990-91.  91 had the biggest March on record and 2000 the biggest February.  You can see that March saved 91 from being the second lowest snowfall season.  We need a big February or March to do the same.

dry starts 

This graph only shows dry starts but that doesn't mean dry seasons.  4 of the 7 seasons with low starts ended up with over 300 inches.  So this morning I made a new chart we can use moving forward that tracks where we are as compared with the 9 lowest snowfall seasons since 1970.  Each ended up with less than 300 inches for the season.  Here is that graph.  Again, we are on track with 76/77.  February will be an important month.

dry years

(Data used for the graphs came from the Central Sierra Snow Lab on Donner Summit.)

Those graphs are for snowfall but more importantly we can look at total precipitation meaning total liquid from rain and snow.  Most of you know that 2013 was the driest year on record for many CA locations including Tahoe City.  The water year starts October 1st.  At the end of December we were around 30% of average for the water year in the Tahoe Basin.  

The storm track so far this season has had most of the storms going into the Pacific NW and then dropping into the Rockies.  Ski resorts and areas to our East have not had as dry of a year despite the fact that big storms have not come through CA from the West.  That is why I was able to drive across Nevada to ski powder on Sunday.  Below are the comparisons for precipitation variances to average for Tahoe, Salt Lake, and Denver.  The lower line is actual precip and the upper line the avergage.  Below average is pink and above green.

Tahoe precip

Salt Lake precip

Denver precip

That's all I have for now.  Trying to come up with things to talk about through this lack of snowfall forecasting.  I may take a day off again tomorrow to brainstorm.

Stay tuned....BA



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