Partly-mostly sunny with a few scattered snow showers possible through Monday. A stronger storm moves in Monday night into Tuesday with snow showers lingering into Wednesday. We could see a drier pattern starting Thursday, with only weak systems if any showing up through the 1st week of April.
Short Term Forecast
The weak system that moved through Thursday - Thursday night dropped a fresh 1-15 inches of snow on the mountains. That brings the 3-day totals to 7-23 inches for the Tahoe ski areas and the March totals to 116-228 inches & counting!
We are on track to have a top 5 snowfall month on top of having the 2nd snowiest winter since at least 1946 when the Central Sierra Snow Lab was built & started officially recording snowfall!
The final forecast was for 1-8 inches of snow for the mountains from east to west across the basin. Here is the Keep Me Honest Report Card for the Thursday storm. You can see that 3 ski areas picked up 1 inch over my forecast. I confirmed the Sugar Bowl number so they must have had a narrow intense band move through overnight.
Skies are clearing as the Thursday system is moving out of the region. We will have partly-mostly sunny skies through Sunday. It stays cold with highs well below average, maxing out in the 20s for the upper elevations and 30s for the lower elevation and lake level. The winds are dropping off Friday morning and should be fairly light through Sunday.
We could see spotty snow showers through the weekend with the cold unstable air over the region. The best chance will be during the afternoon-evening hours with the daytime heating helping with lift and instability. Not expecting more than a dusting-coating any place that see a snow shower pop up.
The latest model runs max out around a tenth of an inch of precipitation in totals for the 3-days. Here is a look a the WPC's blended model forecast through the weekend.
Monday Night - Wednesday Storm:
We should start the day on Monday with partly-mostly sunny skies. The latest model runs have slowed the arrival of the next storm until Monday night, so Monday now looks to be dry until the evening hours. We could see increasing clouds and winds during the afternoon, with ridgetop winds from the southwest gusting up to 40-50+ mph by evening.
Low pressure spins up a decent storm off of the coast Monday and it moves into CA Monday night into Tuesday. It will have a decent moisture tap that it will direct at the Sierra during the day on Tuesday as the center of the low is near the northern CA coast.
We should see snow showers move in during the evening Monday with lighter snow at first Monday night, and then heavier snow during the day on Tuesday. Winds turn a bit to the south-southwest with ridgetop winds gusting up to 80-100+ mph. That should close down some ski lifts Tuesday and blow the snow around with low visibility.
The low is forecast to track south near the CA coast Tuesday night through Wednesday night. How close to the Sierra it tracks could determine the amounts of snow showers we see during this period. Overall we expect much lighter amounts of snow through Wednesday along with lighter winds. Highs remain in the 20s for the upper mountains and 30s at lake level Tue-Wed.
The latest model runs show slightly less precipitation with the later start and a trend toward fewer snow showers Wednesday. Most of the precipitation is expected to fall by Tuesday evening. The latest forecasts show a range of 1.5 - 2.5 inches of liquid near the crest by Thursday morning and up to 1.2 inches to the east side of the basin. The total model average is around 1.8 inches near the crest.
With the flow turning more southerly it could help to limit spillover a bit to the east side of the basin. We could also see higher amounts to the south. Here is a look at the WPC's blended model forecast.
Snow levels look to drop to around 4500-5500 ft. Monday night. Then on Tuesday, there could be a surge of warmer air as the heavier precipitation pushes in. Freezing levels are forecast to jump to around 7000 ft. Snow levels may hold near to just below lake level with heavier precipitation rates. Then they fall below 2000 ft. Tuesday night, back up to around 5000-5500 ft. Wednesday, and below 4000 ft. Wednesday night.
Snow ratios look to be a bit lower now for Tuesday with the warmer air working in. Then jumping higher Tuesday night - Wednesday night with the lingering snow showers, with a powdery topping. Here is the updated snowfall forecast. A general 6-18 inches for lake level and 1-2 feet for the mountains.
Most of the forecast is expected to fall by Tuesday evening as I mentioned above. With several ski lifts likely closing from the winds Tuesday and lighter winds forecast for Wednesday, Wednesday morning should be the prime powder skiing.
The storm moves out of the region by Thursday with mostly sunny skies expected. The ensemble mean models continue to show high-pressure building near the West Coast by next Friday into Saturday the 1st.
That should continue the dry weather with mostly sunny days through at least Saturday the 1st. The GFS model runs suggest a trough digs into the West Sunday into Monday the 3rd with some scattered snow showers possible for Saturday night through Sunday night. The European and Canadian models keep high pressure in place through Sunday.
Beyond the 3rd the long-range models are in better agreement that the ridge near the coast will break down with lower heights over the region. That could allow weak systems to move through the region. Right now I don't see any storm of significance through the extended period, but I'll keep watching.
The ensemble mean models are in good agreement that we could see finally see below-average precipitation amounts during the 1st week of April.
I don't see any signs of strong high pressure and a prolonged mild and dry pattern either. We'll have to see if any stronger storms will spin up in April and bring us some appreciable snow. The snowfall average at the Snow Lab drops to 35 inches for April and 10 inches for May as the wet season winds down.
P.S. I'll be traveling Saturday morning for a funeral for a friend's wife that passed, so I won't be posting a forecast again until Sunday morning 3/25. Enjoy the drier but chilly weekend weather.
Jenni Charles from the Dead Winter Carpenters joins the show to promote the WinterWonderGrass Festival at Palisades Tahoe from 3/31-4/2. We come up with a name for the trough that has been stuck over the West all winter. We celebrate the first day of spring as winter looks to continue. Plus all of the snowfall reports and forecasts for the ski regions!
Available on most podcast platforms...