Tahoe Daily Snow

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Happy Thanksgiving!...


Mostly sunny and mild into the weekend. Next week will be colder with the chance for a few storms to bring at least some light snow to the mountains.

Short Term Forecast

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 

Although we all wish it was snowing, the good news is that the travel will be easy through the weekend (weather wise at least), and we have quite a few ski areas open due to early November snow that we are thankful for.

Thursday - Sunday:

High pressure continues to dominate our weather pattern into the weekend.


That will continue to keep the pattern dry with mostly sunny skies each day through Sunday. Highs into the 40s. Gusty ridgetop winds at times up to 30-40+ mph from the east Thursday and switching to the west Friday.

Monday System:

The latest forecast model runs continue to shift the track of the front moving through Monday to the east, which is a drier scenario for the northern Sierra. They have also slowed the timing slightly with snow showers now possible between late morning Monday and Monday evening before clearing.

monday storm

Expect colder temperatures and gusty winds on the mountains. Highs into the 30s at lake level and 20s for the upper mountains. Gusty southwest winds up to 70+ mph over the ridges Monday morning, which could affect some upper mountain lift operations and make it feel even colder. They should come down some through the afternoon.

The latest model runs have dropped their total precipitation forecast average from around 0.5 inches Wednesday to 0.2 inches on the high end along the crest Thursday morning. This WPC blended model forecast may even be a little overdone based on some drier model runs.


Snow ratios of 12-15:1 for the upper mountains so the snow will be cakey becoming powdery and could just blow around in a lot of places. Overall we expect only a dusting up to an inch or two for most locations and mountains, with up to 3 inches on the high end for the upper mountains west of the lake along the crest. Maybe for higher east-side peaks as well with track to the east.


Extended Forecast

I went into a lot of detail in Wednesday's post about the pattern we are shifting into starting Monday. There is no change to the thinking but I'll expand a little today about the pattern setup and the headaches with forecasting in this pattern.

A cold trough will dig into the West starting Monday with the western edge into CA but centered over the northern Rockies and Great Basin. It shifts east a bit Tue-Wed and then a reinforcing trough drops south into a similar position next Thursday the 1st into Friday.


Notice the strong (red) high-pressure ridge over the Gulf of Alaska that is forecast to anchor there at least through the end of next week, maybe longer... That is indicative of a negative EPO (eastern Pacific oscillation) pattern. You can see the model forecasts showing the dip for next week and maybe longer.

epo pattern

This is a similar pattern to what we saw with the snowstorms at the beginning of November, and it's a common pattern during La Nina seasons. We saw it a lot in the last two seasons, including during the big December snowfall last year.

In this pattern, the storms and cold air move down the east side of the high-pressure ridge in the Gulf of Alaska and southward into the Western U.S. Cold storms are usually the case unless they tap into warmer moisture off of the Pacific under the ridge, but that's usually harder to do in La Nina seasons with colder water along the equator and the retracted Pacific jet stream.

The track of the storms diving into the trough on the western side, which is positioned over CA, means the storms can track south just off or along the coast tapping more moisture bringing us heavy snow, track through CA over land bringing light-moderate snow to the Sierra, or track just east through NV & the Great Basin bringing us little if any snow and just colder air.

storm pattern

Pulling back to a global view and considering all that is going on globally with the weather patterns. This small difference in tracks is just a tiny speck in the pattern.

global pattern

But for our snowfall here in the northern Sierra, it can make a Huge difference in how much snow each storm brings. During the La Nina seasons, we can average higher snow per liquid ratios with the typically colder nature of storms. That can bring above-average snowfall even during below-average precipitation seasons like last season.

If the track of the storms is just right, moving down the coast and drawing Pacific moisture into the cold air, the storms can be powder machines. If every system takes that track during the 1-2 weeks of this pattern setup, we can see big snowfall numbers like last December. Or, they can all track through or just east of the Sierra and we can just get light snowfall with each like the models suggest for next week.

The slightest adjustment in the track on the models can sway the snowfall forecasts in a big way, and you likely see that on the 10-day snowfall forecasts when that happens...

Tuesday - Saturday:

It will remain cold Tuesday into Wednesday as we finish out November with the cold trough in place. We should see mostly sunny skies on both days with the winds decreasing behind the Monday storm.

The long-range models continue to show the next storm moving north to south through the region sometime next Thursday or Thursday night.


Similar forecasting headaches with this storm as well. Some models track it to our east and miss us while others track it through CA with light snow for the Sierra. We could see similar amounts as with the Monday system if the average of the latest model runs verifies.

We could see a quick break next Friday the 2nd and then a 3rd system could drop down from the north into the trough.

3rd system

The ensemble mean models average dozens of ensemble member runs which helps to smooth out some of the big swings in each model run, but even among the GFS, European, and Canadian models the ensemble mean runs vary quite a bit. The GFS shows only light precip over the next 10 days, the Canadian is much wetter, and the European below is in the middle.

10 day precip

Those variations are because some model runs drop one or two systems down the coast pulling in a lot more moisture. So we will watch for that but confidence is low until we see it for a few days on multiple models. For now, we'll expect a colder pattern next week with a few chances of light snow Monday through next Saturday the 3rd.

Fantasy Range:

Beyond day 10, the long-range models suggest that we could stay in a similar pattern more than not. That could mean a continuation of shots of colder air and systems bringing light snow into early December. It could also mean a continuation of forecasting headaches if models track a storm down the coast and show big snow and then shift it slightly east and drop the forecasts. Be wary of big snowfall forecasts in the 10-day forecasts...

The good news looks to be that currently there aren't any signs of a big ridge sitting over the region for days, blocking all storms and bringing mild air to melt the snow on the mountains. Seems like we could be stuck in a typical La Nina pattern with shots of colder air and sitting on the edge of the storm track. I'll let you know if that changes.

Stay tuned...BA

P.S. I hope you are all with your family or good friends and enjoying your Thanksgiving. There's always a lot to be thankful for. I've always thought it should be a requirement to graduate college that you have to spend a semester volunteering in a poor community or in a 3rd world country. That may shift your perspective for the rest of your life. I may be a little biased to the idea since I did it and it changed my perspective...

I also didn't grow up with money. I worked since I was 12, was couch surfing for a place to stay at times in high school, worked multiple jobs to pay my way through college, and worked 2-3 jobs until I was 40. All while adopting and having kids of my own and having a family to support. When I try to encourage 20-somethings these days they'll tell me, "you don't how hard is to do what you're suggesting". Yep, I haven't a clue...lol.

I never want a pat on the back. Many people work harder than I do and went through worse. But my experiences have made me thankful daily for what I have and my life, and not just on Thanksgiving. I believe we should all be thankful for more than we realize no matter our situation, and be kind and generous because of it.

One thing I miss is the big family meals from when I was young. Family fracturing and moving out west in my 20s, I've not spent Thanksgiving with anyone from my family in many years. I've started my own family out west, and I'm becoming more blessed as more of my wife's family continues to move closer to us and we continue to make close friends to celebrate with.

But I have a small hole in my heart on days like today being away from family. Most of my family is now split between NJ & TN. My uncle sadly took his own life on Thanksgiving 2 years ago and my mom passed this spring. So things wouldn't be the same even if I could be back east with family. With the family I now have in the west it would be hard to get back east to be with my family, but I'm thinking of them and the great times we had in the past.

Now I'm off to watch the parade with the kids and to get ready to watch football and spend time eating good food with family. I hope you all have a wonderful day and know that I'm thankful for you and your shared snow obsession as well...BA

Ski Area Opening Dates:

      • Boreal - Open
      • Donner Ski Ranch - Open (weekends only)
      • Northstar - Open
      • Palisades - Open
      • Mt. Rose - Open
      • Heavenly - Open
      • Kirkwood - Open
      • Dodge Ridge - Open
      • China Peak - Open
      • Mammoth - Open
      • Sugar Bowl - 11/25
      • Bear Valley - 11/25
      • Sierra at Tahoe - 12/3 -  Welcome Back!!
      • Diamond Peak - 12/8
      • Tahoe Donner - 12/9
      • Homewood - 12/9


We're Ba-ack!!!

On this week's episode, we follow Caleb's dream winter, look at the 5-Day Snowfall Reports for U.S. Ski Resorts, go through the 5-Day Snowfall Forecasts, discuss the Long Range Outlook, as well as a few laughs!

Be sure to join us for another season of good times chasing snow!

Available on most podcast platforms...