Storm is set to arrive tonight. Snow levels will start around 7000 and quickly drop to lake level. The initial front tonight will drop around 3-6 inches on the mountains and 1-3 inches at lake level. What is going to add up is that the moist flow will continue snow showers Wednesday into Wednesday night, and then the main low triggers them again Thursday night into Friday. On the mountains where it stays cold we could see amounts reach 12-18 inches by the time it all ends Friday night, especially on the crest. At lake level we will probably see a few inches each night that melts during the day like we saw this past weekend. Mountains in the Tahoe Basin could add up to 6-9 inches in total by Friday.

Things clear out and warm up over the weekend. Highs into the 50′s on Saturday and well into the 60′s by Sunday at the lake and in Truckee. Next week the ridge will really try to build in and warm us up as another storm hits the Pacific Northwest around midweek. We look to stay dry for now but we could see a few rain showers midweek. If the ridge wins out, which it will by the end of the week, then summer will try to come in quickly.

If you were reading last summer and the fall you know my thoughts were for a weak El Nino that would fade in the spring with an overall cold Pacific. I thought that would bring us a big winter. Let’s analyze what actually happened over the winter and this spring. El Nino was stronger than expected which caused lower pressures across the Southern U.S. and allowed the strong cold in Canada to dive further South than expected into the Eastern U.S. This put us into 2-3 week blocking patterns in the heart of the winter. If you remember we would have a week of non-stop snow every time the blocking would break down for a week. Once the cold over the East moderated removing the blocking, and El Nino began to weaken this spring, it allowed the spring to turn into what I thought the winter would be like, non-stop storms.

With the Pacific in the beginning of it’s 20-30 year cold cycle, the El Nino’s are going to be just reactionary like this winter. They are the result of the East to West winds along the equator piling up warm water in Western Pacific during the La Nina winters and then the warm water rebounds back for a winter. On average they should be on the weaker side and we will see an El Nino once every three or four winters. With the colder ocean we should see more La Ninas in the inbetween years. We will be transitioning into one over this summer.

This upcoming fall and winter should be similar to the La Nina winters of 07/08 & 08/09. Even though summer is on hold until June this year, we should have a warm and dry fall which will extend the summer on the back end. In La Nina winters we have a 50/50 shot at above normal snowfall just like with El Nino. El Nino favors the Southwest and La Nina favors the Northwest, with Tahoe right in the middle. In La Nina years the snowfall numbers can look high like last winter, but since the storms are colder there is less water content and the water years can still end up below average. California naturally has an arid climate and with the colder ocean the outlook for water over the next several years is not good. Northern CA can still get hammered though in La Nina’s.

I will be looking back at past La Ninas over the summer and comparing them to the upcoming winter as I did with this past season’s El Nino. I will try to get an idea of what next winter will have for us. Hopefully it starts like 07/08 winter but doesn’t stop dead in March and continues this time until the end of the season. BA

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