Classic Tahoe Dry Spell…
These long dry spells are not uncommon here in Tahoe with the most recent being last January for 6 weeks in the middle of the epic season. It’s funny because every time this happens people start throwing in the towel on Winter. It even happened last January when I remember people saying, “that’s it for the Winter we’re done”, and then we more than doubled what had fallen in November and December and it didn’t stop until mid-June.
Trying to write discussions and forecasts during these dry spells is almost as painful as waiting for the snow. I do forecast discussions for 6 sites currently and it’s hard to write everyday about how it’s going to be dry for the next couple of weeks and write it in a different way for each site. I don’t do weather forecasts I do snow forecasts so I need snow in the forecast to really do a forecast.
There is so much going on in the pattern this year and if you read through some professional meteorology discussions they are all the same. The forecasters are all worried about trying to forecast this season because the signals are pointing in all directions. For almost as many things that point towards cold and snow there are things pointing towards warm and dry. The past couple of seasons were much easier overall with most of the signals pointing towards cold and snow.
I like to try and use history to see what happened in similar situations in the past and that is where my average to slightly above snowfall and cold Winter forecast came from. There is a lot that goes into these posts. It’s not just looking at a model runs and then regurgitating it in words. It’s looking at all the patterns and indices globally and seeing if what the models say makes sense. That’s why I will come up with what I think will happen and then find a model run that agrees and post that for you to see.
It’s kind of funny because some of the readers will write me saying, “look at the new model run, it shows a ridge and not a storm”. A great forecaster Joe Bastardi has some good quotes about forecasting off of models like, “live by the model, die by the model”, and “thou shalt not worship false models”. He made a great comparison recently about how modern weathermen are the kids in school the past 10 years with computers that do all the calculations for them. They don’t know how the computer comes up with the answers they just take the answers and run.
If you forecast like that you will not catch the model errors and you will be wrong and changing your forecast a lot. Sound like the weathermen you see on TV? Doing the dirty work of spending countless hours studying all the players on the field takes more time than most will do just to find out when it will snow again. In the Winter my life is waking up before the sun to do research, working all day, spending time with the kids before bed, and then up until all hours of the night doing more research. In the middle there someplace I lay out what I am seeing into words.
Am I doing a good job of filling in the snow void in the forecast with all this nonsense? I just get some comments and questions about where I get my forecasts from and it is just a labor of love requiring many hours. I am the type of person that needs to understand how everything works and so the weather will be and endless pursuit. It is driven by my love of snow and cold and trying to figure out when it’s going to come and how to get myself into the heart of it. The past few years it has turned into trying to help people all over the country get into it.
If you want to do your own snowcasting the routine is usually this: looking at current state of all the teleconnections and other indices, then looking at the new model runs every 6 hours which can be several runs with different varibles put in for several models to see how then line up with the teleconnectios and what the trend is, then reading several professional meteorological discussions to see what they are seeing in the pattern that may be the same or different than what I am seeing, then going and researching things I want to try and better understand that my be affecting our weather pattern, and finally maybe going back to the models to remind myself what they are showing and how it compares to what I think is going on. Then just repeat that everyday from October until May. It’s easy and you’ll never be wrong, haha.
So anyway looking at the forecast we are back into the split flow pattern. We are going to watch yet another storm go down the coast to our West and then come inland to our South on Sunday and Monday. It’s almost like a joke with all of the storms coming in to our North, South, East, and West leaving a dry circle over Tahoe.
The PNA has flatlined and needs some resuscitation if any of you have a spare defibrillator. The MJO is in phase 5 and it staying stronger and moving further East than the forecasts keep showing. Lining that up with the MJO in that phase this time of year it would suggest the possibility of the ridge pulling back from the Coast next week. The models are not showing that yet though so we will see if there is an affect on the pattern next week as we watch the forecasts over the next few days.
The models do show the ridge pulling back slightly but only enough for a weak storm to come in next Wednesday to our North. It looks like we could get some light snow as another cold front pushes through. No shortage of cold fronts, just a shortage of moisture along with them.
The pattern was showing to possibly get fairly progressive by the weekend of the 17th with some bigger storms coming across the Pacific and flattening the ridge off the coast. It now looks like the pattern is slowing a little which will allow the ridge off the coast to build further North a little bit longer. That may hold the storms off a few more days or so until the middle of the following week. What is a few more days after 4 weeks of no snow?
The forecast for December was never a snowy one using the historical analogs. January and February look much snowier and cold. The expectation for this Winter is for it to fall within the actual “Winter” season between December 22nd and March 22nd. The La Nina is strengthening and once we go into the Winter the East Asian jetstream should retract and the ridge off the coast should shift back away from the coast.
Stay tuned, and keep washing your cars, put out your lawn furniture, flush ice down the toilet, etc. We could use any help we can get….BA
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