Cold with clearing skies today and highs in the 30's. We will see some sun on Wednesday as well with some increasing clouds and highs in the 30's. Thursday a weak system may bring a dusting of snow with highs in the 30's. Starting Friday stronger high pressure builds in. That may create high mountain top winds Friday. Expecting sunny skies through the weekend and into early next week with highs in the 30's. We could see clouds increase by next Wednesday as a stormy pattern may be returning going into the first week of February.
Short Term Forecast
The ski resorts along the West side of the lake and South of the lake picked up 3-8 more inches of snow from the lingering snow showers yesterday. The totals for the last 6 days are over 100 inches for some mountains, and near 300 inches so far for the month. We basically just saw three 75-100 inch weeks in a row.
Taking the average of all the ski resort reports for the upper mountains we are at 90% of the seasonal averages 42% of the way through the ski season. I have not yet received the the final numbers from the Central Sierra Snow Lab. They are just below 7000 feet and a better representation of the snowfall since we did have several high elevation snow events with rain below 8000 feet.
We did see plenty of snow at lake level the last few weeks with several feet the last 2 weeks with all snow. Walking around Truckee it is hard to see very far as the walls of snow go pretty high now around the buildings.
There are some clouds around today as the storm continues to pull away. We should see the sun come out with highs in the 30's. There will be inversions this week with colder temperatures in the valleys than on the mountains which will help keep the afternoon highs basically the same from bottom to top on the mountains through early next week. Highs should be in the 30's through the period and single digits to below zero for the lowest valleys.
There is a a weak system pushing through Thursday that could bring clouds and a dusting of snow to the mountains. Then on Friday stronger high pressure builds in for the weekend. The latest model runs do show a tightening gradient for Friday with East winds directed at Tahoe that could be as high as 100 mph on the ridges. So we could have lift closures in a rare event where the sun is shining.
The rest of the weekend into early next week the winds should die down and the weather should be beautiful with an amazing January snowpack to enjoy.
Still watching for a pattern change the middle of next week. The ensemble runs still show the ridge building near the Aleutians with a trough digging along the West Coast. The 6z GFS ensemble mean run did show the ridge further North in Alaska and the trough further North with a ridge for the Southwest. We will have to watch to see if that was a fluke.
The rest of the models including the GFS operational run show moisture starting to push into CA next Wednesday with light precipitation. Then heavier precip possible the weekend of the 4th. So we will be watching the forecast for later next week as a possible return of a stormy pattern for the West Coast.
I wanted to share a few more stats from the storms. Here is updated snowpack report showing the Central Sierra at 180% of average as of yesterday.
The Northern Sierra 8 station index shows us now above average for total precip only 4 months into the water year.
Here is a look at the snowpack specifically for the Truckee River and Tahoe basins. It is showing the amount of liquid in the snowpack that will runoff and add to the reservoirs in the Spring.
The reservoirs are filling up nicely with some above average now for this time of year, and some just below but catching up. This is impressive given how extremely low they were the last few years.
The other good news is that Lake Tahoe continues to fill up. It usually peaks during snow melt season in the Spring and early Summer. If the storms continue we should have the highest lake level in 5 Summers.
This January is reminding me of 2008. We had a moderate La Nina and we had a 6 week period from early January through mid-February with similar snowfall amounts over 200 inches on Donner Summit. But the storms completely stopped in February and we only saw 26 inches of snow the rest of the season, and ended the season below average for snowfall.
It's a good reminder that even though we just saw similar amounts of impressive snowfall the last 4 weeks, the storms need to continue. They can stop and if they stop right now we could have a below average season. December 2012 was record breaking for snowfall for some resorts followed by the 12 driest months in history. So be excited but we need the storms to continue!
Mt. Rose, Heavenly, Diamond Peak
Tahoe Donner, Homewood, Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge
Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Sugar Bowl, Squaw, Alpine, Sierra, Kirkwood
*Boreal and Donner Ski Ranch are forecast with the "West" mountains in higher snow levels events.
*The snowfall forecasts on the ski resort pages are for the upper mountains at 8000'.