Tahoe Daily Snow

Heads up, there may be fresher snow! Read the latest Tahoe Daily Snow

By Bryan Allegretto, Forecaster Posted 1 month ago March 2, 2024

Snow Saturday, Snow Showers Sunday, More Mon-Tue...

Summary

Snow continues Saturday and snow showers for Sunday. The next storm brings more snow Monday - Tuesday. We could see a break later next week, with another storm possible around the 11th. Then a drier pattern is possible through mid-month.

Short Term Forecast

Snowfall Reports:

We saw very strong winds through Friday night, with a gust up to 190 mph recorded at the top of Palisades!

winds

That brought blizzard conditions that closed most ski areas on Friday with only a few that were open, and those had limited operations. We already have a few resorts to be closed on Saturday as well. It also closed some of the highways through the Sierra, with I-80 still closed as of this writing Saturday morning.

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The ski areas are only reporting 1.5 - 3.5 feet of snow in the past 24 hours. That is from 2-4 inches of liquid recorded by the SWE (snow water equivalent) and precipitation measurements on the SNOTEL sensors. With temperatures in the 20s that dropped into the teens overnight, the lower snowfall numbers would typically not be scientifically possible, as snow ratios should have been running at 15-20:1 above 8k'.

You can see the east side mountains that had slightly less wind reported higher totals of 20-36 inches, and also the lower wind-protected mountains like TD and Homewood reported 28-31 inches, while the taller mountains on the crest reported only 18-32 inches. Can you spot the two beard shaver reports of over 36 inches in 24 hours?!

I'll have a video of snow beard sacrifice on the @tahoeweather X page later today, and pics on here tomorrow! Two-day storm totals so far of 2.5 - 4.5 feet with two more days to go with this current storm.

reports 3

The strong winds are diminishing the SLR & snowfall totals which can happen from the snowflakes crashing together and breaking into much smaller crystals that pile up more densely with less snowfall height, the snow on the ground will blow and break up and compact, and winds can blow some snow off of the measuring areas.

I tried to calculate the strong winds into my SLR formulas, which is why my forecast for the upper mountains by Monday was for 5-9 feet of snow, while many other weather outlets were forecasting 8-12 feet, and some even suggested up to 160 inches of snow! So my 5-9 feet was conservative, but thanks to the winds and only 2.5-4.5 feet so far, storm totals may end up closer to 4.5-7.5 feet, up to 1-2 feet less than I forecasted.

Saturday - Sunday Storm:

The snow continues Saturday but the intensity is expected to diminish some through the day. Then a final surge of some heavier snow is being shown on the models for Saturday night, and then lighter snow showers for Sunday into Sunday night, with the steadier showers looking to be confined near the crest.

2nd half of storm

This is the colder and more convective part of the storm where we could see bands of heavy snow move over some areas while we see lighter snow showers over other areas.

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Highs will only be in the 20s with teens for the peaks. The ridgetop winds come down some Saturday, but could still be gusting up to 70-80+ mph over the exposed ridges through the afternoon, and they could gust up to 60-70+ mph through Sunday.

View → Wind Gust Map

That is the frustrating part of the 2nd half of this storm as the strong winds over the ridges may prevent the upper mountains of some ski areas from opening, and the strong winds could continue into Monday - Tuesday as the next storm is right on the heels of this storm. The more protected mountains should be able to get more terrain open Sunday, but the winds will be gusty and making it feel even colder.

The latest model runs show an additional 1.5 - 3+ inches of precipitation falling near the crest, and up to 1.8 inches to the east side of the basin. Shadowing to the east side is expected to increase on Sunday. The average near the crest for the 2nd half of the storm through Sunday night is around 2 inches.

precip

We had an average of 7.8 inches falling in total for the storm over the 4-day period through Sunday night, so with only 2 additional inches expected for the 2nd half of the storm, it is the drier half of the storm. However, we have the colder air now and snow levels between 2000-3000 ft. through Sunday morning, and only peaking around 4000 ft. Sunday afternoon before falling again.

That means we have even higher snow ratios that should be around 15-20:1 for the rest of the storm. But that is without strong winds. So they could be lower still on the peaks. With the winds coming down some I'm hoping that the snow ratios increase below the peaks. With a 19:1 snow ratio average near 8k', that could drop up to 40 inches on some areas from the 2" of liquid.

Here is my snowfall forecast for the 2nd half of the storm for Saturday through Sunday night.

snowfall 1

It's hard enough to forecast snow ratios and snowfall in a normal storm, and extremely hard in a storm with 100+ mph winds. There's not a set scientific formula for snow ratios that includes the winds, but we are working on our own here at OpenSnow to help with storms like this. I'm hopeful that the ski areas with close to 4 feet so far will pick up the higher end of the forecast through Sunday so we can get a few into my forecast range.

Monday - Tuesday Storm:

The next storm is right on the heels of the first. The weekend storm clears out by Monday morning, and snow showers from the next storm could be filling in by late morning. Then the snow could increase in intensity through the afternoon and into Monday night, with steady snow showers possible for Tuesday before becoming lighter Tuesday night.

mon tue storm

Some models keep a few snow showers around into Wednesday while others clear the storm out. Highs into the 30s for the lower elevations near lake level and 20s on the mountains as this storm is a little milder than the weekend storm. Ridgetop winds from the WSW could gust up to 60-70+ mph Monday and then could slowly drop through Tuesday afternoon but could be gusting up to 40-50+ mph by the end of the day.

That means the winds don't really drop off until Wednesday. We will have to see if the upper mountains of exposed ski areas will be able to open Monday or Tuesday, probably a better chance by Tuesday afternoon.

The latest model runs show 1-2+ inches of total precipitation falling near the crest. The model average is trending a bit wetter this morning and is now around 1.6 inches by Wednesday morning. 

precip 2

You can see that the amounts fade south of Tahoe with this storm, with very little snow expected as far south as Mammoth. Snow levels start low Monday but increase to around 5000-5500 ft. by afternoon as some milder air works in. Then dipping as low as 4000-4500 ft. Monday night and fluctuating between 4000-6000 ft. through the rest of the storm.

That would give us snow ratios of around 10-15:1 from lake level up to 8000 ft. throughout the storm. Here is my updated snowfall forecast for this two-day storm.

snowfall

This storm could make up for the shortage on the weekend storm...

Extended Forecast

We should clear out at least some on Wednesday with partly sunny skies possible and lighter winds. Then high pressure builds in over CA for the end of the week.

ridge

That should bring us mostly sunny skies for Thursday through at least Saturday. Highs into the 30s, and maybe getting close to 40 degrees near lake level.

The long-range models are still showing a final cold trough trying to dig down the West Coast between the 10th-12th.

trough 2

The trend is weaker with this system. The active phase of the MJO is moving out of the favorable phases for cold troughs, and the PNA (Pacific North American) teleconnection pattern is trending toward neutral which is also less favorable for a pattern to bring wetter storms. We'll continue to watch the trends to see if a final storm could bring measurable snowfall.

Fantasy Range:

The neutral PNA pattern is forecast to continue through mid-month, and into the 3rd week of March. That could put the ridge near but off the West Coast.

ridge

That is likely a drier pattern, but if the ridge is off the coast colder air could still flow in from the north, which would keep us from warming up significantly. It could also allow drier/weaker storms to drop down from the north. 

Stay tuned...BA

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About Our Forecaster

Bryan Allegretto

Forecaster

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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