Back to Reality….
Pre-frontal precip brought a few inches of snow this morning above 7000 ft. This is not the main cold front that will bring heavy snow later this afternoon. Snow levels came as low as 6500 ft. this morning with the heavier precip which is a good sign for this evening. The cold front has just moved through Redding and will be here later this afternoon. It will drop the snow levels below lake level and bring a period of heavy snow. Snowfall forecasts still look to be on track.
From 6 a.m.:
The precip moved into the region early this morning ahead of the cold front still up in Northwest CA. The models have finally come into alignment with regards to precip. We are now looking at .75-1.25 inches of liquid over Tahoe. Snow ratios are are currently around 12:1 above 7000 ft. and will increase as the day goes on to around 15:1 and maybe slightly higher if any snow showers linger into tonight behind the cold front. That should bring us anywhere from 9 inches East of the lake up to 18 inches West of the lake above 7000 ft. Snow levels are currently at 7000 ft. and will slowly fall to below lake level by this evening. I’m thinking that the cold front will come through fast and strong this afternoon and turn the rain to snow at lake level. How fast the snow level falls will determine the amount of snow at lake level. Right now I’m thinking anywhere from 4 inches East of the lake to 8 inches West of the lake. I will update today if the snow levels come down faster.
Like most people in Tahoe I work in an industry that relies on tourism, but I would not recommend travel in the Sierra starting Friday. This storm has the potential to drop as much snow as the one in November, with twice the liquid content. I am going to be the first to make a bold prediction that many of the ski resorts will hit 50% of their annual average snowfall before Christmas. It is common with these storms that the models increase liquid amounts the closer we get to the storm. Models this morning have liquid amounts for the 7 day period of Friday – Friday that are off the end of the chart. Last time I saw that was back in the first week of January of 2008. You can see the 5 day precip forecast on the right sidebar is at over 4 inches and that is only through Sunday. That should go up everyday this week.
Looking at snow levels the models are in fairly good agreement that we go briefly just above lake level Saturday and then fall again. Other than that we look to have mainly snow Friday – Monday at lake level. Euro keeps the snow levels low next week and the GFS has them come up close to lake level Tuesday before falling again. Even if we get 2 days where we change to rain at lake level over the the 7 days, we should still see several feet at lake level.
If the amount of liquid on the models is right or keeps increasing we could potentially see places on the crest hit 100 inches again. The reason that is more impressive this time is that the snow ratios will be closer to 10-12:1 instead of 20:1 or higher. Snowfall forecasts will fluctuate a lot over the next week as we analyze each of the several storms as they arrive. Right now it does look as if we have a good chance at averaging at least a foot a day over the course of the week long storm cycle. The two biggest days looks to be Saturday and Tuesday which is why the snow level may come up briefly ahead of these strong storms.
Still looking like we will clear up for Christmas weekend, although models are bringing a final storm through around Christmas Eve today. We should have at least a few days of quiet weather starting that weekend into the following week as the pattern shifts back West a little and we ridge up. Shouldn’t last long as the block over the East weakens going into January. We should see the trough move back towards the West Coast with colder storms in January. Stay tuned….BA
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