Mostly sunny days through Saturday with gusty winds Saturday. A weak system will bring scattered snow showers Saturday night into Sunday, with steadier snow Sunday night into Monday along with colder air. We could see another weak system Tuesday. The models are split on whether we go into a drier pattern starting Tuesday, or see another system later next week before going into a drier pattern.
Short Term Forecast
Storm Snowfall Totals:
There are some clouds and a few scattered snow showers still lingering around the area early Thursday morning, especially south of the lake. The snow showers Wednesday - Wednesday night dropped an additional 1-5 inches on the mountains, with the highest amounts SW and NE of the lake just as we expected.
That brings the 2-day storm totals to 1-2 feet of snow, with up to 3 feet down at Mammoth. That is also exactly what we expected from this storm, but not exactly for each mountain.
Looking at the Keep Me Honest Report Card, we can see that the mountains NE of the lake picked up 3-8 inches over my forecast range, and from Tahoe Donner down to Sierra on the west side of the lake they picked up 1-4 inches under my forecast.
Some of the underages I think are from the 100+ mph winds blowing the snow on Tuesday as I mentioned yesterday, with the scientists at the Snow Lab near Donner Summit reporting 2.5" of liquid and storm totals of 2 feet at only 6894' in elevation. So the taller mountains on the crest just to the south likely picked up slightly more than the 12-17" they are reporting.
Northeast of the lake a heavier band of snow formed that also affect areas around Reno with more snow than forecast. Overall pretty much what we expected and several ski areas are now in the 700" club, with a few more about to break into the club over the next week!
Thursday - Saturday Weather:
Clearing Thursday with mostly sunny skies. Then mostly sunny skies are expected each day through Saturday. Highs into the 30s and near 40 degrees at lake level Friday & Saturday. We could see a scattered snow shower or two pop up over the mountains Thursday afternoon and again Saturday afternoon.
A cold trough will be pushing down from the north on Saturday with weak high pressure over CA.
The pressure gradient will help to increase ridgetop winds from the southwest with gusts up to 60-70+ mph on Saturday, which could affect some upper mountain lift operations.
Saturday Night - Monday Night System:
Light and scattered snow showers will start to increase over the northern Sierra Saturday night as some moisture begins to stream in ahead of the approaching cold front from the north. That continues into Sunday with a better chance of snow showers by the afternoon. Highs into the 30s with the strong ridgetop winds continuing and increasing to 70-80+ mph.
By Sunday evening steadier snow is expected to start moving in with the cold front and to continue Sunday night and into Monday behind the front.
The snow showers will become more scattered by Monday afternoon and then fizzle out Monday night. Much colder air behind the front with highs only into the 20s on Monday. The strong winds will drop off as well making for a cold but decent powder day.
The latest model runs show precipitation totals of 0.6 - 1.1 inches near the crest and up to 0.6 inches on the east side of the basin through Monday night. The highest totals could be NW of the lake near Donner Summit, with amounts fading to the south of the Tahoe basin.
Snow levels could be near to just above lake level Saturday afternoon with a little rain or wet snow possible with any snow showers that pop up into the early evening. Then snow levels fall to 5000-5500 ft. Saturday night. Sunday snow levels could rise back up to 6000-6500 ft. with rain possibly mixing into any showers near lake level and below, but most showers are expected over the mountains.
Snow levels drop below 3000 ft. Sunday night behind the cold front and stay below 4000 ft. Monday before falling below 2000 ft. Monday night. Most of the snow is expected to fall Sunday night into Monday morning when snow ratios will be averaging around 12-17:1 from lake level up to 9000 ft. with powdery snow falling on the mountains.
Saturday night it looks like we will only see a dusting-coating of snow at best on the mountains. Then a dusting to an inch during the day on Sunday and again Monday night. 80-90% of the snowfall forecast below is expected to fall Sunday night into Monday.
The best chance for the higher end of the forecast looks to be on the north side of the lake and then less to the south, with the lower end likely farther south near Dodge Ridge.
The latest model runs show another weak system possibly bringing scattered snow showers Tuesday with light accumulations possible.
If you remember back to yesterday's (Wednesday's) post, the European model was showing a slow-moving storm with heavy precipitation Tue-Thu of next week, while the GFS model was much drier with a pair of weak systems possible Tue & Thu. The latest European model run now shows high-pressure building in near the West Coast and a drier pattern starting Wednesday through the end of next week.
The GFS model still shows the weak system Tuesday and another storm possible for next Thursday the 6th. It has it barely digging far enough south to reach the Tahoe basin. Then drier by Eastern weekend. Here is the precipitation forecast through the 8th.
We'll have to continue to watch the trends to see if any storms will be able to dig far enough south to reach the northern/central Sierra beyond Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to stay below average with highs into the 30s, and 40s at lake level by the end of the week.
The weekend of the 8th-9th into the week of the 10th the long-range models continue to show a high-pressure ridge building over the West Coast.
That would bring us a drier pattern or a continuation of the drier pattern. The ensemble mean models are in good agreement on below-average precipitation through at least the 13th-14th of April.
There is a bit of a discrepancy on the exact position of the ridge and that may just dictate how warm it gets. But it's looking more likely that we could see warmer weather with highs into the 40s for Easter weekend, and possibly into the 50s by the 10th as the ensemble mean models show above-average temperatures over the West finally!
We'll continue to watch the trends to see if the trends toward warmer and drier continue for the 2nd week of April. We may finally have a week of spring skiing. We'll also have to see how long that pattern could last as the GFS ensemble mean model suggests lower heights with some troughing over the West Coast again by mid-month.
It will be much harder to get a big snowstorm by mid-April into May. More likely just a chance of an unsettled pattern if we see any troughs with mainly weaker systems. But it's not impossible so we'll be watching closely. I was a little bold in declaring that the storm that just moved through could be the last big storm of the season. That's possible as well, we'll see...
Pixie & The Partygrass Boys join the show to promote the WinterWonderGrass Festival at Palisades Tahoe from 3/31-4/2! We look at the insane snowfall totals on the updated Top 10 Snowfall List. Plus all of the Snowfall Reports and Forecasts for the Western ski regions.
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