Tahoe Daily Snow

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By Bryan Allegretto, Forecaster Posted 3 months ago December 2, 2023

Slight Adjustment South...


Rain and snow showers Saturday into Saturday night. The storms start to lift north on Sunday. Mostly sunny and milder Monday - Tuesday. Windy Wednesday with a chance for rain and snow by evening into Thursday, with another system possible Friday. A drier pattern is possible next weekend into the week of the 11th. An active pattern is possible starting around the 13th-14th.

Short Term Forecast

First, let's go through the snowfall reports which were slow to come out Friday as the ski areas are just getting open for the season. My forecast was for 1-4 inches of snow with the first system through Thursday night and we picked up 1-7 inches, with 3 ski areas not reporting yet.


Time to dust off the storm variance report card for the 2023-24 season. If you are new to this forecast column, I make a final snowfall forecast ahead of storms moving in, and then I add up the snowfall totals after the storm and compare them to my final forecast. This I think gives transparency to being right or wrong and it helps with fine-tuning forecasting methods for future storms.

For this first storm, 3 ski areas came in over my forecast with the rest picking up the forecast range.


Saturday Storm:

The storms continue to pound the Pacific NW and then east into the Rockies this weekend. northern California continues to be on the southern edge of the moisture plumes and copious amounts of moisture to the north. In a pattern like this, the slight adjustment south or north can mean a dry or wet forecast for the northern Sierra.

Four days ago I had a forecast for several inches of snow on the mountains from the Saturday-Saturday night storm. Two days ago the models had trended completely dry for the weekend. Friday they started to trend the moisture slightly farther south and I bumped the forecast up to 1-2 inches. Saturday morning they adjusted the precipitation slightly farther south again.

Here is a look at our forecast radar showing some steadier showers reaching the northern Sierra, especially northeast of Lake Tahoe later Saturday into Saturday evening.

forecast radar

You can see the trend over the past 24 hours on the models as each model run (darker/thicker) has come in a bit wetter near Donner Summit.


We are still on the southern edge and the latest model runs show a sharp drop off of precipitation south of the Tahoe basin. On a global scale, the shift south is microscopic, but on a micro level, it means going from dry two days ago back up to 4 tenths of an inch of precip on the wettest models near Donner Summit and then fading to the south and east.

wpc precip

The total model average for the high-end NW of the lake is around 0.37 inches of liquid by Sunday morning. There could be decent shadowing to the east side of the basin for some areas, and south of Kirkwood, we could see little to no snow.

Snow levels are rising Saturday morning and look to sit around 6500-7000 ft. during light showers or mist through the afternoon, and could drop to 6000-6500 ft. (near lake level) under steadier showers. The snow levels rise Saturday night as the storms to the north continue to push warmer air in. Snow levels could rise to 6800-7800 ft. by early Sunday morning.

That means we could see some rain mixing in near lake level Saturday and then up to mid-mountain elevations by Sunday morning. Then the moisture feed is forecast to shift to our north during the day on Sunday as snow levels continue to rise.

For my final snowfall forecast for this storm, I have nothing up to 2 inches at lake level, the highest forecast west of Highway 89. The east side mountains are the same with a coating up to 2 inches, maybe Mt. Rose squeezes out an inch or two more up top. Then 1-4 inches for the mountains west of the lake down the Sierra crest, with the highest forecast to the NW near Donner Summit and the low end to the south near Kirkwood.

final forecastd

I would lean toward the 0-1 farther south near Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley as the precipitation may not reach much past Kirkwood. This will become pretty wet snow for the mountains by the time it winds down and we are getting snowfall reports Sunday morning.

Sunday - Tuesday:

Sunday we should start to dry out but with some clouds around and maybe some sun by later in the day. Highs warming into the 40s.

Monday and Tuesday we expect mostly sunny skies and highs warming into the 40s for the mountains and 50s for the lower elevations near Lake Tahoe level, as high pressure (orange) builds in over the West bringing us a drier and milder pattern.


Wednesday - Friday:

By Wednesday, we should start to transition back toward an unsettled pattern. We could have partly sunny skies with increasing clouds and winds. Ridgetop winds could be gusting up to 90-100+ mph by evening ahead of the next storm.

The latest model runs continue to show a trough (blue) digging into the West Coast for Thursday and Friday...


...opening the door to a pair of storms spinning up into the base of the trough through the Pacific NW and northern CA.

late week storms

Once again northern CA looks to be on the southern edge of the storms, but they do look to dig far enough south to bring some rain and snow to the northern Sierra and Tahoe basin Wednesday night through Friday.

We'll be watching the trends on these storms all week with more details as they become clearer. Right now, any snowfall looks to fall in inches.

Extended Forecast

The long-range models continue to show high pressure building back in over the region pretty quickly next weekend into the week of the 11th...

ridge 2

...bringing back a drier pattern to the region.

Fantasy Range:

We'll continue to watch the long-range for any signs of hope for a more active pattern with storms that could bring more than just a few inches each.

The long-range models continue to suggest that we could see a more active pattern by mid-month as they suggest that troughing sets up near the West Coast for a while. They have it in a better position for storms with the ridge up near the Aleutian Islands.

trough 3

That pattern usually allows storms to dig farther south off of the West Coast picking up more moisture and moving into CA farther south with precipitation for more of the state. The ensemble mean models show increased chances for near to above-average precipitation from around the 13th to the 18th.

above average precipitation

We'll continue to watch the trends with the hope that something will finally happen by mid-month with some bigger storms before the holidays.

Stay tuned...BA

About Our Forecaster

Bryan Allegretto


Bryan Allegretto has been writing insightful posts about snow storms for over the last 15 years and is known as Tahoe's go-to snow forecaster. BA grew up in south Jersey, surfing, snowboarding, and chasing down the storms creating the epic conditions for both.

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