Tahoe Daily Snow
By Bryan Allegretto, Forecaster Posted 2 months ago December 7, 2023
Breezy and cold with more snow showers later Thursday. Mostly sunny and cold for Friday with lighter winds. A drier pattern starting Saturday with highs warming into the 40s for the lower elevations. The dry pattern could last for a while...
Short Term Forecast
Finally, some good news Thursday morning as the storm that moved through Wednesday evening delivered a bit more snow than expected on the north side of the lake, and several inches for every mountain! We needed to get as much snow out of this system as possible as it could be a while before we see another good storm.
The GFS model was one of the only models that showed stronger frontogenesis and higher precipitation amounts on the last few model runs as the storm moved in. We saw a band of intense precipitation sit over the north side of the lake for a few hours Wednesday evening.
The GFS model was showing up to 1.2 inches of liquid NW of the lake while many of the other forecast models only had up to 0.5 - 0.7 inches. Looking at the SNOTEL sensors Thursday morning, they show that exactly 1.2 inches of liquid fell near Donner Summit, exactly what the GFs model forecast, so it was right!
The sensors show 1 inch near Mt. Rose and then amounts faded to the south with 0.8 inches near Sierra at Tahoe and only 0.5 - 0.6 inches near Kirkwood. We saw some rain at lake level at the start but colder air moved in pretty fast with snow to 7000 ft. pretty much right away and to lake level within a few hours of the start with the heavy precipitation rates helping to drag snow levels lower.
That was good news as the snow was pretty wet and thick for base building. On the north side of the lake above 8k' the ski areas are reporting 9-15 inches of new snow! I knew we were getting the over as I saw the table at the base of Sugar Bowl approach a foot of snow on the webcams last night.
The mountains that report below 8000 ft. reported 4-10 inches, and around 1-4 inches at lake level depending on location. The ski areas south of the lake came in within the forecast range for the storm with reports of 6-9 inches of new snow.
If you remember back to my final forecast for the storm, I had 4-8 inches on the high-end with the first system and we picked up 4-15 inches, with the taller north side ski areas picking up 1-7 inches over the high-end. It's nice to have a morning with good news!
It's a cold morning with temperatures in the 20s and the winds have come down some. We are even seeing a little sun over the lake between storms.
The winds will pick back up ahead of the next system moving in with ridgetop gusts up to 60+ mph by afternoon. Highs only in the 30s. We will see the clouds increase again through the morning with snow showers expected to move through during the afternoon-evening hours from a weak system moving through, mainly to our north.
Snow levels are expected to stay in the 4500-5500 ft. range through Thursday evening. That will keep this storm as all snow to lake level and the base of the mountains.
This system will also weaken as it pushes south through the Sierra with total precipitation amounts expected to fade from north to south. The latest model runs still show only 0.1 - 0.25 inches of liquid in total through Thursday evening, and then the storm clears out overnight.
That is enough liquid for a dusting up to 2 inches of new snow for most locations, and maybe up to 3 inches NW of the lake.
I have the ski areas south of the lake put into lower snowfall zones again as the system fades south of the lake. We'll tally up all the storm totals on Friday morning.
Friday we will see the sun come out and the winds drop off, along with colder temperatures in place. Highs only in the 30s for the lower elevations near lake level and 20s for the upper mountains.
High pressure builds in over the West Coast through the weekend with mostly sunny skies expected and highs warming into the 40s for the lower elevations. 30s above 8000 ft.
We continue to be in a pattern this winter where troughs struggle to push far enough south into California, and then high pressure quickly builds back in for several days.
We were hoping for a trough (blue) to dig into the West Coast around mid-month, but the latest model runs show any troughs struggling to push in with high pressure over the West. Here is a look at the heights forecast for the 14th - 17th and you can see the trough try to push in and it is blocked and lifts north with high pressure quickly building back in.
That has any chances of a good storm around mid-month disappearing on most of the long-range models. At best they show a system weakening considerably as it reaches the Sierra around the 16th. We'll continue to watch the trends but they are trending in the wrong direction.
That means we could see the dry pattern for this weekend, with mostly sunny skies each day and highs into the 40s, continuing through the end of next week, and possibly right into the week of the 18th. The ensemble mean models show a very dry pattern for CA over the next two weeks.
Looking way out into the unreliable fantasy range, the long-range models continue to try and bring us more of a typical El Nino pattern during the last week of December into January, with the storm track farther south into CA.
But they have been trying to do that since the beginning of December and high pressure keeps building near the West Coast and the storm track has been to our north with the northern Sierra only getting brushed with lighter precipitation and snowfall amounts.
So I don't trust anything in the long-term right now as the forecast models continue to struggle. We'll continue to look for signs in the shorter range for storms to return, but it could be a while based on the latest trends.
Palisades Tahoe asked me to do a video for them this weekend giving people some hope that storms could come later this month. I said, "what if I don't have any hope?" lol. Ugh...
Here is our latest podcast live from the airport Monday night. We changed up the show format and we hope you enjoy it! We talk about the weather patterns causing a slow start for CA and where it has been snowing so far. Give it a listen...
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