Tahoe Weather Geek
Thursday Feb. 11
The Tahoe Basin, like much of the west, is looking at nearly another week of dry and unseasonably warm weather before we see the next chance of winter returning to the region.
While dry spells in the midst of an El Nino year, even a strong El Nino, are typical, this one is unsettling if only because it feels so much like what we have seen over the past several years of drought. The high pressure sets in and the forecasts start hinting of it moving on, only to see the glimmer of hope in the seven to ten day models keep receding into the future, like a mirage.
Indeed, the latest models show the area of high pressure breaking down and moving east by the middle of next week, followed by a chance of colder temperatures, rain and snow. The best bet at this point is for a change in the pattern to start taking shape around Wednesday, with precipitation following shortly after.
We will keep our eye on that scenario and keep you updated as it evolves.
Friday Feb. 5
Is El Nino done?
No, most likely it’s just taking a little mid-winter break.
In fact, if history holds, we still have not seen the strongest effects from everyone’s favorite ocean temperature phenomenon.
Typically the heaviest precipitation generated by a strong El Nino condition comes in February and March. So we might expect to be getting hammered about now. But a mid-winter dry spell would not be out of character, and a late winter deluge would be right in line with what you would expect. Patience.
At the moment, though, a strong area of high pressure is building over the western United States. We all know what that means: no storms will be getting through to the Sierra any time soon.
The extended forecasts show the ridge beginning to break down in about a week. A couple of storms will make a run at it next Thursday or Friday and into the weekend. Some of the models show these storms breaking apart or passing to the north of Tahoe. Other models are more hopeful, suggesting that we will see some precipitation over the Valentines/President’s Day weekend.
It will be a few days yet before those scenarios sort themselves out. But it’s reasonable to expect that this dry spell will end sometime in the middle of the month.
Let’s hope so!
Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.
Sunday Jan. 31
Scattered snow showers will bring a few more inches of snow today through parts of the Tahoe Basin before this storm departs and moves south and east. The heaviest snow today is likely to be more concentrated on the southern end of the Tahoe region and points south toward Mono Lake and Mammoth. Snow levels will be low, perhaps below 3000 feet, but accumulations will be modest at those levels.
The weather will be mostly fair for a few days but also unsettled, with light snow possible Tuesday followed by the chance for a modest storm late Wednesday or Thursday.
A weak ridge of high pressure is building over the west but it looks like several storms will push up against that ridge this week, trying to break through. So far the forecast doesn’t show any of them arriving with significant moisture.
Saturday Jan. 30
A heavy rain turned to snow overnight below 7000 feet, and snow levels are dropping fast toward 5000 feet this morning. But the switchover comes after most of the moisture from this storm has already headed south and east. It looks like North Tahoe resorts will be left with less than 6 inches of snow at 7000 feet, with a bit more than that on the southern edge of Tahoe. Further south it’s likely to continue snowing for most of the morning. Some areas around the region received as much as 3 inches of rain Friday and Friday night before the snow began.
The forecast still anticipates a second wave of snow for the Central Sierra on Sunday, but again, most of that will fall south of Tahoe. Scattered showers could produce several inches in part of North Tahoe where the showers stall for a while, but the overall forecast looks modest, just an inch or two. Further south, closer to Highway 50, we could see three to six inches, and even more south of that line.
After that system exits, it looks like a mostly dry period for the start of the work week and perhaps all the way through into next weekend.