Partly cloudy and mild today and Tuesday with highs in the 50's. Wednesday the clouds increase and temperatures are slightly cooler in the 40's. We could see some light rain showers move in by evening. Wednesday night we should see light rain showers with snow levels falling to around 9,000 feet. The light showers could linger into Thursday and Friday with snow levels lowering to around 8,000 feet. We could see a coating to an inch or two of snow above 8,000 feet by Friday. For the weekend we could see another wave of precipitation move through Saturday or Sunday with more showers and light snow accumulations above 8,000 feet. High temps remain in the 30's on the upper mountains to 40's on the lower mountains and at lake level. Next week we could see a wetter storm move in around Tuesday-Wednesday. High pressure may build in later next week and into the weekend of the 13th, bringing back a drier pattern.
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Short Term Forecast
Happy New Year everyone! We just ended a crazy weather year. It started off very wet and snowy last January and into February, with snow continuing into April. We started off dry this October and then went into a mild and wet November with above average rainfall, and snowfall above 8,000 feet. Then into a very dry December.
Looking at the last 50 years here are the top 10 least snowy Decembers, followed by the top 10 least snowy starts to the season through December. As recorded at the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory at 6,883' on Donner Summit.
So not the worst start to the snowfall season but in the top 5 since 1970. I'm going to compare back to 1879 once I pull the numbers. But looking at the seasonal graph we know we are off to a rough start. It feels like we have had some low snow years the last 10 years. But the 4 years in a row we saw from 2011-2015 wasn't the longest below average snowfall period. There were 8 years in a row of below average snowfall in the 1920's.
We had a rebound the last 2 seasons with above average snowfall on the mountains, but we are back to another below average year. With this slow of a start it is nearly impossible historically for us to reach average snowfall the rest of the season. We would need huge months the rest of the season.
Going into the first two weeks of January the forecast doesn't have a parade of storms so we won't be making any big dents anytime soon. The forecast is for a wetter pattern though over the next 10 days.
A cut-off low off the coast will send the first wave of precipitation into CA on Wednesday with the best chance for us to see rain showers being Wednesday night. Snow levels start around 10,000 feet and only lower to around 9,000 feet it looks like Wednesday night.
We could have lingering showers into Thursday. Then as the low moves inland to our North Friday we could see more showers with snow levels lowering to 8,000 feet or maybe a few hundred feet lower. The European model is keeping most of the precip to our North on the latest run.
Here is a look at the total precipitation forecasts on the GFS and European forecast models through Friday.
We are only expecting a coating to an inch of snow at best through Friday, with maybe up to 2 inches above 9,000 feet.
Where should you go for fresh snow this week? Not sure as most of the country is fairly snow free. Only the very Northern Northeast areas could see fresh snow on the latest forecast.
Going into the weekend we could see another wave of precipitation move through. The European model shows some showers for Saturday and the GFS for Sunday. Either way it looks light again, with snow levels possibly staying around 8,000 feet. So we could see another inch or two above 8,000 feet over the weekend based on the latest model runs.
Here is a look at the WPC's precipitation forecast through Sunday, showing increasing precip amounts possible over the weekend.
Next week we have been watching possible stronger system moving through around Tuesday-Wednesday. The latest model runs show another cut-off low sitting off the CA coast that could be pushed in as a colder trough pushes into the West Coast.
The air with the cut-off low would be warm again with high snow levels, but there is colder air pushing in from the NW as well. It looks like the question is how far South the trough digs and if we get the colder air moving in during the storm to lower snow levels below 8,000 feet finally.
This is beyond 7 days so we still have lots of time for changes and it's too early for a forecast. That's just a quick observation looking at the latest model runs. One thing that is consistent on the forecast models is that we could see more precipitation with the systems next week than this week.
Here are the GFS and European model total precip forecasts through next Wednesday.
Here is a look at that trough over the West Coast early next week...
Followed by a fairly consistent and agreeable forecast on the long-range ensembles for a ridge building in with drier weather going into the weekend of the 13th.
Will we get a miracle month this year? Let's hope...
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