Sunny and cold today with breezy conditions on the mountains. Then tonight a cold storm approaches with snow moving in during the early morning hours. For Christmas Eve we will have snow through most of the day and lingering snow showers into the night. By Christmas morning we could have 6-12 inches at lake level and 7-20 inches on the mountains, highest amounts West of the lake and along the crest. The sun comes out Friday through the weekend, but highs will only be in the 20's and lows in the teens and single digits.
Next week some weak splitting systems could bring clouds and light snow showers Monday and again Tuesday-Wednesday. Overall expecting mainly dry conditions until about the 5th-7th of January.
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Snow showers continued to fall yesterday Northwest of the lake along the crest as a moist flow lingered. Snow levels came back down below 7000 feet during the afternoon. We had snow showers on Donner Summit most of the afternoon into the evening. The ski resorts North and Northwest of the lake reported an additional 1-8 inches of snow. That gives them some impressive storm and 5 day totals.
Averaged together the ski resorts are at 35% of their seasonal totals so far. This storm brought us near or just above average for this date. We need 15 more inches on Donner Summit to be at average for the end of December which we could get with the next storm. Looking at the snowpack yesterday we jumped to 121% of average for the date.
Looking at the water year starting Oct. 1st we are now at 102% of average for the Northern Sierra.
We have one more decent storm before we could see a break. A cold storm is currently making its way down the Pacific NW coast. You can see the center of the low on satellite spinning off of Vancouver. The low will move into the Pacific NW on Thursday but a cold front will push through CA bringing us a period of moderate to heavy snow on Thursday.
The snow should move in during the early morning hours, then continue through the day Thursday with snow showers lingering into Thursday night. The forecast models for total precip are in decent agreement. Not a lot of moisture but high snow:water ratios with this storm giving the snowfall a boost. Using a model average for precip here is the snowfall forecast by Friday morning.
This storm will bring in lots of cold with highs Friday only in the teens on the mountains. Highs down to lake level may stay in the 20's through the weekend. The sun will come out by Friday afternoon into the weekend. It should be a great weekend for snow conditions with the thick base from this last storm, and then the soft powder from the Christmas Eve storm.
A ridge of high pressure begins to build over the West this weekend into next week. The next few systems for next week are weak and split apart by the time they reach the West Coast. We could see some light snow showers Monday from the first splitting system, and there could be another Tuesday/Wednesday.
Overall it looks like a much quieter pattern into the first week of January. High pressure builds over the Western U.S. and Canada. What we will look for is storms starting to undercut the ridge into CA eventually. That may start around the 5th-7th. We will look at that in more detail after this storm.
It has been common over the last 9 years to have good snow in December and then the storms stop in January. It should only be brief this year as in Strong El Ninos January is normally a wet month for CA. Hopefully we can break the January snow curse of the last 9 years.
Stay tuned, safe travels...BA
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