Mostly sunny and cold on Monday. Another weak system will bring several inches of snow Tuesday. Weak systems look to continue through Friday with light snowfall. The weekend of the 25-26th could be mostly storm free. The storm door looks to remain open into April. The next storm could move in around the 28th-29th.
Short Term Forecast
The weak Monday storm is clearing out Monday morning as the sun comes up over the mountains.
The winds are dropping and we are starting the day with temperatures in the 20s with a few inches of fresh snow on the mountains.
No surprises with the weak system that swept through with some rain and snow on Sunday. We expected the snow levels to hover between 5500-6500 ft. with the storm. We saw snow levels near lake level up to 6500 ft. Sunday with some rain in lower elevations like Truckee and a mix near lake level. Then some snow at the end.
For the mountains, we expected 2-11 inches in total. We have reported storm totals of 5-11 inches, with a bit more south of the Tahoe basin into the central Sierra. A few ski areas reported a little snow Sunday morning after my 6 AM post.
You can see that Sugar Bowl is now into the 700s! They reported 701" Sunday afternoon which made them the first ski area in the U.S. to break 700" this season. They are still in the lead but Brighton also broke 700 with a report of 703" Monday morning. Boreal for some reason hasn't reported in two weeks, so I've been using the Snow Lab numbers for them as the lab is on the backside of the mountain.
The Snow Lab is now at the #2 all-time snowiest season with 677". The records go back to 1946 when Berkeley built the Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Summit. There are unofficial railroad records that go farther back but we typically don't use those. I usually wait until the end of each month to review all the stats and records, which I'll do after March is over.
For the Keep Me Honest Report Card, we can see that the mountains NE of the lake picked up 1-3 inches over the high end of my final forecast. The rest of the ski areas around the Tahoe basin picked up snowfall within my forecast range.
We will see mostly sunny skies with highs in the 20s on the upper mountains for Monday and 30s for lake level. Ridgetop winds are falling and should be on the lighter side throughout the day. Should be a nice day for skiing with a few inches of fresh snow.
We have another weak storm that will bring several inches of snow to the Tahoe area mountains on Tuesday. Looking at the satellite images this morning, we can see the storm spinning up in the northeast Pacific and moisture streaming across the Pacific underneath.
The ingredients look like they are all there for a big storm, but Tuesday is the first full day of spring and the jet stream is weakening. The storms in spring start to become cut off from the steering winds of the jet stream and spin/wobble down the coast with a mind of their own as far as their track.
Looking at our forecast radar, you can see the low coming onshore near the Bay Area Tuesday morning and spinning up a band of steady snow from south to north across the Tahoe basin during the day. Then a gap over Tahoe into Tuesday night.
The low stalls as it approaches the coast and then pivots southeast across southern CA. The flow Tuesday turns south and then southeast. That is a terrible direction for mountain orographics and producing snow over the Tahoe basin. Ridgetop winds could peak around 40-50+ mph Tuesday morning and then falling through the afternoon.
We could see some light snow showers move in early Tuesday morning, but the steadiest snow is expected between mid-morning and late afternoon. Snow levels should be around 4500-5500 ft. throughout the day with snow to lake level. Most of the snow is expected to fall during the day on Tuesday with 1-6 inches possible across the Tahoe basin, highest amounts on the mountain tops.
Tuesday Night - Wednesday Night:
After the initial band on the north side of the low rotates through, we will likely only see scattered snow showers Tuesday night into Wednesday with light amounts of snow. We could also see some peeks of the sun. Highs into the 20s on the mountains and low 30s near lake level. Lighter winds for Wednesday.
A secondary wave looks to move through Wednesday night into Thursday, which could continue the scattered snow showers through Wednesday night for this forecast period. In total for the two days through Wednesday night, the latest model runs show a range of only 0.45 - 0.75 inches of liquid near the crest and up to 0.5 inches on the peaks on the east side of the basin.
The total model average is down slightly again this morning from 0.61 inches Sunday morning to around 0.55 inches near the crest on the latest model runs Monday morning. Here is a look at the WPC's blended model forecast through Wednesday night. You can see the much heavier precipitation amounts in southern CA.
Snow levels fall below 3000 ft. Tuesday night and rise to around 5000-6000 ft. by Wednesday afternoon. That will make it hard for any snow to stick at lake level with the high sun angles. Then falling back below 4000 ft. Wednesday night. Snow ratios averaging around 11-16:1 over the two-day period from lake level up to 99000 ft. which could bring a little dry/powdery snow to the upper mountains.
Most of the snowfall is expected on Tuesday with only a dusting up to 3 inches at best expected Tuesday night through Wednesday night with the scattered snow showers. Here is my updated snowfall forecast for the two-day period.
South of the Tahoe basin we will see heavier snow into the central and southern Sierra. Kirkwood could see the high end of the forecast or just over, and Dodge ridge could still see up to a foot+. I'll put out a final forecast early Tuesday morning, but I don't expect any real changes to the forecast.
Thursday - Friday Systems:
We no longer expect a brief break on Thursday with the weak wave Wednesday night into Thursday and the next weak system right on its heels for Friday into Friday night.
We only expect light and scattered snow showers on both days and we could see some peeks of the sun as well. It stays cold with highs in the 20s on the upper mountains and 30s at lake level. The daytime heating could create some convection snow showers and pellet snow during afternoons Wed-Fri. The winds look to be on the lighter side through Friday.
We are only expecting a dusting to an inch of snow at best each day. In total, the models only show 0.15 - 0.35 inches of total precipitation near the crest, and up to 0.15 inches to the east side of the basin. The total model average is only around 0.25 inches over the two-day period through Friday night. Here is a look at the WPC's blended model forecast.
Snow levels look to fluctuate between 3000-6000 ft. through the period, which would be all snow to the bases and lake level. But it will be hard to accumulate anything during the day in the lower elevations unless it is in the shade or on top of snow already on the ground.
Here is my initial forecast for the two-day period. Barely enough to even warrant a detailed snowfall forecast.
Don't expect any powder days this week other than during the day on Tuesday as the snow is falling.
We could see some clouds and a few scattered snow showers lingering into Saturday. But overall partly sunny skies which clear to mostly sunny skies for Sunday. Highs into the 20s on the upper mountains for the weekend and 30s at lake level. It should be a pretty nice weekend overall.
I mentioned above how cut-off/bowling ball lows form during spring. The long-range models show a negative PNA pattern continuing into April, which is a Western trough pattern that we have seen most of this winter.
Pretty remarkable actually as we typically see several weeks or more of high pressure over the West each winter. Usually, it flips back and forth from the Western to the Eastern U.S. The reason we are having a historical season is that the trough has been stuck over the West most of the winter keeping the storm door open, and it's forecast to remain there through the end of March and into the beginning of April.
That will continue to keep the door open to storms and cold air tracking down from the north into the Western U.S. If you are waiting for a spring weather pattern with warm and dry weather I don't see one yet. Here is a look at the temperature anomaly forecast into early April.
Looking at the ensemble mean models, they show a chance of precipitation just about every day.
Most of that precipitation is very light with only weak systems. But we could see a couple of cut-off/bowling ball lows wobble down the West Coast the last several days of the month and into early April. The closed lows are round and spin counter-clockwise and look like a ball rolling down the coast for a strike someplace. The problem is the models trying to forecast their track and timing.
Here is the first one showing up around the 28th-29th.
They can spin right by to our west and we wave at them as they miss us. But other times they can spin through CA, and sometimes very slowly. That is usually how we see bigger snowfalls during spring. The long-range models show another one is possible around the 1st - 2nd of April.
Yes, that means my hopes of a sunny and mild weekend for the WinterWonderGrass festival at Palisades the first week of April seems to be out the window. If the latest GFS model runs above were to verify, we could see a fairly snowy weekend.
Overall, with the negative PNA pattern sticking around and the trough stuck over the west, the storm door remains open into April. Most storms should be fairly weak, but if a cut-off low or two or three move slowly south through CA, we could see a bigger storm at some point. The ensemble mean models show near to above-average precipitation continuing.
We'll continue to watch the trends. Accurate forests will be harder to come by until within a few days of each storm as we go into spring. The cut-off lows are hard to forecast and models tend to be less accurate overall with the change in the seasons.