Tahoe Weather Geek
Wednesday Jan. 13
A low pressure system moving through Northern California this morning is taking a north to south trajectory that’s likely to limit its potential as a snow producer. By the time the system exits the Sierra tonight, it will probably deposit about six inches of new snow above 6000 feet with a few more inches possible at the higher elevations.
Another even weaker storm is due Thursday night, followed by a wetter but warmer storm on Saturday.
Tuesday Jan. 12
The latest computer forecast models are showing some good news — the approaching storm looks like it will hold together pretty well as it slams into the ridge of high pressure over the west. That means we should see some pretty heavy precipitation tonight and Wednesday, with snow levels between 5000 and 6000 feet. By Wednesday night this storm could bring 8 to 12 inches to the Tahoe passes with 18 inches possible at the higher elevations. At its peak overnight this storm could bring snowfall of one inch per hour.
A secondary wave on Thursday will keep things unsettled, but most if not all of its precip will likely fall north of Tahoe.
The bigger picture is also bright. The trough over the northeastern US is showing signs of moving on, which should open the door for our high pressure to also move east, clearing the way for another series of good storms to come through the Northern Sierra.
The first of these is due Friday night into Saturday, with another possible Monday or Tuesday. Snow levels will likely be on the high side, perhaps approaching 6500 or 7000 feet on Saturday.
The early forecast for next week looks wet, with a deep plume of subtropical moisture over the Pacific feeding into the storm track and bringing heavy rain and snow to the Sierra. The forecast models are not unanimous on that scenario. One of the models shows the moisture plume staying north of Tahoe and dumping its best precipitation into Oregon. So we will have to see how that evolves.
But for the moment, at least, it looks like a nice one on its way tonight. Enjoy.
Monday Jan. 11
We are not quite there yet, but this January is starting to look a little too familiar. After the post-New Years storms we have settled into a routine that looks a little too much like the past several years. A trough over the Northeast United States and a ridge of high pressure over the west are conspiring to keep the Sierra and Tahoe mostly dry. Several storms that have come our way have broken apart as they hit that high pressure, leaving us with those tantalizing forecasts whose fruits always seem to be just out of reach. Until that trough moves on and the high pressure follows it or weakens, we will be left with more of the same.
The latest victim is a low pressure system moving through the Pacific NW today, which we had hoped would reach us with something still left to give. Now that is apparent that we won’t be getting anything from this storm.
The next one is due Wednesday, and some of the computer forecast models are still projecting as much as a foot of snow for the Northern Sierra. But the models tend to overstate the ability of these storms to crash through that high pressure while remaining in tact. Until we see one succeed, our tendency is to assume that the high pressure ridge and not the storm will win out. So we are expecting perhaps several inches of snow Wednesday and Thursday and still hoping to be pleasantly surprised with a bit more than that.
And there are still more storms lined up for Friday and the weekend. If the high pressure breaks down, we could see some decent accumulations.
But that’s the big if. The storm door is open, in other words, but at this point, it’s only open a crack.
Saturday Jan. 9
A series of storms heading for Northern California over the next week are starting to look even weaker as the latest forecast models come in. They are going to split apart as they hit the ridge of high pressure and send much of their precipitation into Southern California.
Today’s system is now forecast to bring just a few inches of snow to Tahoe and Monday’s storm might be little more than a dusting.
The pattern is still unsettled and more systems are in the forecast for Wednesday and next weekend. There’s still some hope that those will turn out to be bigger snow producers. But right now there’s not a lot of confidence in that scenario.