Thursday, Dec. 15
A quick moving storm sliding down the coast of California could drop a dusting of snow on the western slopes of the Sierra this morning as it moves south. This system, which was originally forecast to slide down the eastern slope and into Nevada, switched tracks relatively late in the game and now looks to mostly miss the eastern side as it moves into Southern California. But the system is not packing much moisture and it’s moving too fast to deliver significant accumulations to Tahoe. Areas near and south of Highway 50 will probably get the most snow as the trailing edge of the system drags past the Sierra, but even there accumulations are expected to be light.
In the wake of this storm the forecast calls for high winds over the mountains, with gusts perhaps exceeding 50 mph. By Friday a ridge of high pressure will begin to build, and an inversion layer will likely bring warmer temperatures to the higher elevations while the Sierra valleys remain fairly cool through the weekend,
Another storm headed our way late Sunday is also expected to break apart before it reaches the Sierra, offering us at best another tease but not the start of winter most of us are waiting for. One piece of the system is forecast to slide by to the north of Tahoe while the remainder splits off into what is known as a “closed low” and spins down the coast of California.
A low pressure system forecast for the middle of next week still has a chance to hit Tahoe, but the computer forecast models are still in conflict about its likely trajectory. That’s the one to keep our eye on for now.
Stay tuned for details.
High temperature forecasts:
The Lake Tahoe Adventure Slide Show Series kicks off this Friday (Dec. 9) at Squaw Valley with a talk and slideshow by the legendary Fred Beckey. In his late 80’s, Fred talks with boyish enthusiasm still about the mountains. He will share tales and photos from his favorite climbs, many of which are on your lifelong tick list. Beckey has achieved enduring recognition as the most imaginative, persistent, and thorough explorer and mountain investigator of the Cascade Range Wilderness. He was noted as “one of America’s most colorful and eccentric mountaineers,” and is unofficially recognized as the all-time world-record holder for the number of first ascents credited to one man. In addition to being the author of the Cascade Alpine Guide series (V1, V2, V3), Beckey is also the author of Mountains of North America, The Range of Glaciers: Exploration and Survey of the North Cascades, and a personal narrative, Challenge of the North Cascades. Bring everyone you know, especially those who think or act like they are “washed up”. Yeah right, in your 40’s or 50’s? Fred was just getting going. The free show will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Oly Plaza Bar at Squaw Valley. Sponsored by The Backcountry store in Truckee.
Dec. 8 2011
The dry pattern that has left Tahoe without snow for too long will continue through the early part of the weekend before it begins to show some signs of change.
The big picture is that we are stuck behind a ridge of high pressure over the Pacific that is sending all the storms north into Alaska and British Columbia before they crash back down into the US interior, mostly over the Rocky Mountains. The northwest and the Rockies are doing fine, snow-wise, but we’ve been left high and dry. Things were not helped when several early-season storms that could have built our base slid down the California coast without turning inland over the Sierra as they normally would.
This weekend should be more of the same through Sunday. A low pressure system that is headed for Nevada on a mostly north-south trajectory could deliver some light snow to Tahoe as it passes by. The Eastern Sierra is likely to get more than the western slope as the moisture is coming at us from the backdoor. We will also see some more of those cold north winds, though likely not as fierce as the windstorms of a week ago.
While this storm won’t bring much moisture, it does signal the beginning of a pattern change. Over the next 10 days or so we are looking for that ridge over the Pacific to shift, opening the door to more storms to come out way. There is nothing big in the forecast yet, but this is the first glimmer of hope in some time. Once we see that ridge move out of the way, we can expect the jet stream to sag south again, providing a more west to east track for those low pressure systems to sweep across the Pacific and into the Sierra..
High temperature forecasts: