Partly sunny with increasing clouds Saturday. Two small storms move through Sunday into Monday and again Tuesday into Wednesday with snow showers each day. A possible break Thursday before another weak storm is possible for Friday the 24th. The storm door looks to remain open through the end of the month, but most storms look to be fairly weak.
Short Term Forecast
Saturday will be the last fairly nice day of our short break in the active pattern. We are starting the day with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 20s. Highs will warm into the 40s by the afternoon for the lower elevations and 30s for the higher elevations.
Clouds will increase by the end of the day as the next storm is moving onshore and will push snow showers into the Sierra after midnight during the early morning hours Sunday.
Sunday - Monday System:
By sunrise Sunday the snow showers should be spreading across the Tahoe basin with a light snowfall accumulation possible on the mountains as the snow is just getting started. The steadiest/heaviest snow is expected during the day on Sunday into Sunday evening.
Here is a look at the forecast radar showing the precipitation moving in during the early morning hours into the day on Sunday.
Winds increase from the southwest with gusts up to 60-70+ mph over the ridges by the end of the ski day. That may affect some upper mountain lifts. Highs into the 30s. Snow levels look to fluctuate between 5500-6500 ft. which is near lake level, but we can't rule out some rain mixing in for lower elevations.
Snow showers continue Sunday night with snow levels dropping below 5000 ft by early Monday. The latest model runs are clearing the system out faster with some scattered snow showers Monday morning and some clearing possible by afternoon. Snow levels ending around 5000-5500 ft. Ridgetop winds still gusting up to 60-70+ mph early Monday and falling through the day.
The latest model runs have trended the total precipitation forecasts down a bit with the faster exit of the storm. The exception is the GFS model which has a band of heavier precipitation stalled over Tahoe Sunday into Sunday night and is showing double the other models with up to 1.8 inches of liquid near the crest. The rest of the models have a range of 0.65 - 0.85 inches, and up to 0.55 inches to the east side of the basin.
The total model average including the much wetter GFS model is around 1 inch near the crest. Here is a look at the WPC's blended model forecast showing the same.
Snow ratios will be on the lower end Sunday around 7-12:1 from lake level up to 9000 ft. Then increasing a bit Sunday night to 9-15:1. That could drop a little bit of some drier snow on the mountains into Monday morning. Not expecting a big powder day, but we could have several inches of fresh snow to ski Monday morning once the lifts open.
Here is my updated snowfall forecast for the Sunday - Monday system. It's down around 1 inch from yesterday's forecast. I'll put out a final forecast early Sunday morning as the storm is moving in, but I don't expect it to change much.
We should see a break in the snow showers into Monday night. We could see a few snow showers pop back up early Tuesday morning as the next system moves in, but I'll keep any light snowfall in the Tuesday - Wednesday night storm forecast.
Tuesday - Wednesday System:
The next storm dives into southern CA Tuesday. The latest model runs are slowing the arrival of steadier snow showers until later in the day on Tuesday into Tuesday night for the Tahoe region.
Snow levels look to rise up to around 5200-5700 ft. by Tuesday afternoon, so we are expecting snow to lake level with this system. The flow turns south-southeast Tuesday with wind gusts up to 30-40+ mph. That is not favorable for mountain lift enhancement of precipitation over the Tahoe basin, so we expect light-moderate snow showers. Highs in the 20s on the upper mountains to near 30 degrees at lake level.
Going into Tuesday night the center of low pressure moves east into NV and the flow looks to turn more easterly. That could bring some upslope enhancement of snow showers to the east side of the basin, but still not expecting heavy snow. Snow levels falling below 4000 ft. by early Wednesday.
Wednesday into Wednesday evening we could see scattered snow showers around as moisture wraps around the backside of the low. It stays cold with highs in the 20s on the mountains. The winds look to be on the lighter side with ridgetop gusts up to 30-40+ mph and falling through the day, so the skiing should be ok. The snow showers should clear out Wednesday night. Snow levels top out around 5000 ft.
The latest model runs have been trending down a bit with this system as well with the heaviest precipitation well to our south. Fairly good model agreement on a range of 0.5 - 0.7 inches of total precipitation on the high-end near the crest, and up to 0.4 inches to the east side of the basin. The total model average is down around a tenth of an inch to 0.6 inches near the crest.
The snow ratios will fluctuate through the 2-day period. Most of the snow is expected to fall Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night. During that period snow ratios could average around 11-16:1 from lake level up to 9000 ft. That's fairly dry by Tahoe standards, so Wednesday morning could be similar to Monday morning with several inches of freshies to ski.
Here is my updated snowfall forecast for the 2nd small storm. The amounts are less than with the 1st storm. My forecast is down around 2 inches from yesterday's forecast.
I have the mountains south of Kirkwood in red as heavier snow is expected to our south. I would put the ski areas north of the lake toward the lower end of the forecast, and the ski areas south of the lake toward the higher end. Dodge Ridge could break a foot of snow on the upper mountain.
In total only around 6-12 inches is expected for the upper mountains on the east side of the basin over the 4-day period, maybe a bit more over the top of Mt. Rose & Heavenly from the easterly flow Tuesday night. 1-2 feet of snow on the west side of the basin on the upper mountains. Two small storms that may add up to a moderate storm total over the 4-day period, but not a big deal compared to the winter we've seen.
We could see a break Thursday with some sun and clouds between storms. The next system moving through Thursday night and Friday is trending weaker as well as it moves through to our north.
The latest model runs show a dusting up to a few inches of snow with another reinforcing shot of colder air. It's spring and the long-range models will likely continue to trend weaker with storms as they get closer as the models struggle with the change in the seasons.
We could see a break between storms next weekend for the 25th-26th. We'll continue to watch the trends to see if we can sneak in a pair of partly-mostly sunny days.
The ensemble mean models continue to show troughing over the West Coast through the end of the month.
That will keep the below-average temperatures around and the storm door open. But like I said, it's spring and it will be harder to see bigger storms. The next storm we are keeping an eye on is around the 27th-28th.
That could be our last shot of a wetter storm before the end of March. We'll continue to watch the trends.
I've been trying to will some nicer weather for the first weekend of April, but the long-range models continue to show high pressure two weeks out and then trend towards troughing as we get closer to those dates. The latest model runs suggest that we could continue to see an unsettling pattern into early April with some snow showers around for the first weekend of April.
I'll continue to try and will some nicer weather, but you may find out that contrary to popular belief, I can't actually control the weather. I just forecast what I see in the patterns.
P.S. I was getting some pushback online yesterday with my forecasts for two weak systems Sunday-Wednesday. The media got everyone scared that we were going to get another huge storm and people were asking why my forecasts this week have been much less than others. I can't tell you why, I do my own research and create my own forecasts using my 17 years of experience in the Tahoe basin, and I'm wrong at times just like everyone else.