Sunday will be partly sunny/cloudy at times with a few scattered rain showers/high elevation snow showers possible. Snow, heavy at times, later Sunday night into Monday morning, with snow showers through Monday night. Heavier snow is possible Tuesday with snow showers waning into Wednesday. Drier Thursday - Friday. A weak System is possible Saturday.
Short Term Forecast
It's Sunday morning and we are tracking the big storm for later Sunday night into Wednesday. We saw some light rain showers across the Tahoe basin Saturday night, I was out walking in them in South Lake for dinner. Above 8,000 ft. it looks like a coating of snow for some areas. Here is a look at the deck at High Camp at Palisades Tahoe.
You can see a coating on the deck. Maybe someplace picked up an inch above 9000 ft. Overall the drier models were right with the precipitation forecasts for the weak system that moved through. You can also see that we have some breaks of sun Sunday morning.
Partly sunny to mostly cloudy skies are expected at times for Sunday as one system departs and the next one is approaching the region. It looks big and cold on the satellite images this morning!
Winds will increase through the day with ridgetop gusts from the southwest peaking out around 100+ mph Sunday night. Highs in the 40s for lake level Sunday and 30s on the mountains.
Sunday Night - Wednesday Storm:
The main event is the storm moving in later Sunday night. The latest forecast model runs show precipitation reaching the crest NW of the lake between 10 PM - midnight, and then spreading across the Tahoe basin between midnight - 2 AM, and then continuing south of the basin down the Sierra through the early morning hours, as seen our forecast radar map.
The snow levels look to start out around 7000 ft. but should drop to lake level pretty quickly and below 6000 ft. by Monday morning. The heaviest snowfall is expected during the early morning hours into Monday morning.
Then we could see a bit of a break midday, but scattered snow showers will fire up behind the front Monday afternoon through Monday night. The steadiest showers are expected up the west slope and over the mountains. Snow levels drop below 5000 ft. Monday afternoon and below 3000 ft. Monday night. Ridgetop winds come down Monday but are still gusting up to 50-60+ mph at times. Highs in the 30s at lake level and 20s on the mountains.
Tuesday the center of low pressure spinning down the coast moves inland and another wave of heavier precipitation is expected to rotate into CA. We should see the snow become more widespread and the intensity picks up again on Tuesday.
Snow levels may rise back up to 4000-5000 ft. Tuesday as some warmer air works back in with the 2nd wave. Then dropping back below 4000 ft. Tuesday night as the snow becomes more showery again. Scattered snow showers could continue into Wednesday before clearing out completely by Wednesday night. Winds come down but still breezy Tue-Wed. Highs in the 20s, to near 30 degrees at lake level.
The forecast models trended a bit wetter again over the past 24 hours. Most of the models are in good agreement Sunday night through Monday night, and again Tuesday night into Wednesday. Where there is some spread is on Tuesday as some models still bring the heaviest precip into our south with the 2nd wave, and others are farther north.
The range for total precipitation west of the lake up along the crest is 2.25 - 4.0 inches through Wednesday and up to 2.8 inches to the east side of the basin. The NAM & ICON models are on the lower end and the Canadian, GFS, and Euro models are on the higher end. The European model continues to be one of the wettest.
The WPC's blended model is also showing high-end potential, but it does pick up on the highest amounts being south of the Tahoe basin from between Kirkwood to Mammoth.
The total model average I'm coming up with this morning is around 3.2 inches along the crest, up from 2.6 inches yesterday.
Snow ratios start out near average in the 10-14:1 range on the mountains Sunday night. Then increasing into Monday night up into the 15-20:1 range. That will help to fluff totals with powdery snow falling. The average snow ratio at 8000 ft. still looks to be around 13-17:1 throughout the storm and around 11:1 at lake level.
Based on the latest model runs for precipitation, temperatures, snow levels, and snow ratios, here is my final forecast for this storm.
Now it's time to sit back and watch over the next 3 days. I'll have updates with reports and updated snowfall forecasts throughout the storm, but I put out my final forecast before the storms arrive and grade my forecast after we tally up the totals to be transparent.
This will be my 7th season doing this. My average variance to forecast started out at 1.8 inches the first season but it helps me to fine-tune my methods and my 6-year average is now at 1.5-inch variance per storm. This also helps when we are trying to fine-tune our automated forecasts on the site.
Our automated snowfall forecasts on the site are not always exactly the same as forecaster blogs. I use my own methods I've fine-tuned over the last 16 seasons. The automated forecasts use our proprietary model blend and snowfall formulas. We try to incorporate methods from our forecasters in the automated forecasts, but the human forecasts can at times differ some from the automated forecasts.
Thursday - Friday:
Clearing for Thursday with mostly sunny skies on both days. Highs into the 30s at lake level and 20s for the upper elevations along with lighter winds.
We are still watching a weakening system that could move into northern CA next weekend. It still looks unimpressive. We may just see some clouds and a few scattered snow showers at best. The temperatures should remain cool in the 30s for the weekend.
Going through the week of the 14th the long-range models continue to suggest that weak ridging returns to the West Coast.
That wouldn't bring a big warmup but it should bring a break in the storm activity. We'll continue to watch the trends. But the models are showing the PNA (Pacific North American) pattern flipping from negative to positive after the incoming storm.
That shifts us from a West Coast trough and stormy pattern to more of a West Coast ridge and drier pattern. We will continue to watch the long-range trends to see when the pattern could become more active again, and when we could see the next snowstorm.
In the meantime, the ski areas should be able to make snow on cold nights on top of the natural snow that falls this week as they get closer to opening day.
P.S. I visited some ski areas around the basin this week to show them the latest updates on our site and app. Most were surprised to learn about all of the features we have now that they were not aware of. It is always a challenge to keep everyone that uses our site up to date on all of the cool features and how to use them. Here is an article that could help you:
You can now get a forecast for any location (on land) across the globe, and you can save any of these "Custom Locations" as a favorite.
Any "Custom Location" comes with estimated 24-hour snowfall. This means that you can set a "Custom Location" for your favorite backcountry spot and get estimated snowfall and estimated snowfall history. Since most backcountry areas do not have snow measurement equipment located at that exact spot, this feature will be a useful way to get a general estimate of how much snow has fallen.
To set your first "Custom Location", make sure that you are using the latest version of our iOS or Android apps (this works on our website, too!), then go to the Map tab, tap any spot on the map, and you're on the way to creating your first "Custom Location".
You can learn more about Forecast Anywhere in this short how-to article: