The latest GFS run puts a nice target near north Tahoe.
The forecast is holding together for a winter-like weather pattern this weekend. Although the total amount of water is not a lot for this system, lower snow levels will be a novelty we have not experienced for quite some time. We’ve refrained from saying too much about the system during the week as the models have been all over the place.
One nice change is that over the last three model runs, the bullseye for the system seems to have moved to the north end of the lake rather than the south end of the lake. The GFS, NAM and SREF have all come closer together in bringing in around 3/4 of an inch of precipitation, which should bring 6-12 inches of snow at Alpine Meadows by late Saturday. The SREF was a late holdout. This morning it was stuck showing just a quick shot of much less snow, and totals have now bumped up in line with the GFS as the center of the low is seeming to track further north.
We’re going to repeat our cautionary statement from yesterday. Although up to a foot of new snow is forecast to fall, it’s not falling in ideal conditions. As this storm will be coming in relatively cold, much of that snow will fall on firm ice surfaces, which means that it may not stay in place for long. Lower on the mountain and in south facing areas, the snow will cover rocks just enough to make off-piste conditions hazardous. Those earlier wet snow events we had earlier this season actually did a better job of covering obstacles. The fresh snow will soften up the groomed runs and possibly offer a little powder fun in lower angle terrain where there is still some sort of icy base.
The Sherwood side was looking very dry on Tuesday. Photo by Jim B
Several people have wondered if new terrain will be reopened as a result of this storm. We’re going to be honest and say it’s pretty unlikely. A reader sent us this picture of the Sherwood side this week, which is quite a different story than the north facing slopes on the frontside. The view of Scott and Lakeview posted by Andy earlier this week shows the situation is not much better there. We would need a solid 3-4 foot storm to reopen most of that terrain. That sort of storm is not in the forecast yet.
In the longer term, there is no March Miracle in the cards yet. The models continue to show no significant pattern change until the Fantasyland range at the end of the 16 day model run. We could see one more small system work through mid week and then a drying out period as the ridge nudges back in closer to the coast. Looking at the teleconnections for guidance, the MJO remains essentially neutral for the next 16 days, and has remained so for about a month now. Our big hope has been the PNA Index, which has trended strongly negative for the last 12 days. Over the last two days, the PNA has trended back toward the positive side, indicating that ridge is moving in closer to the coast.
It’s going to be interesting to have some weather for the weekend, but it may not be that powder day you really crave. You’ll likely get a chance to remember how to install tire chains, drive in snow and see if your snowblower still starts. See you out there!
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM FRIDAY TO 4 PM PST SATURDAY…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN RENO HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM FRIDAY TO 4 PMPST SATURDAY.
* TIMING: SNOW SHOWERS WILL BEGIN FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND INTENSIFY FRIDAY NIGHT INTO SATURDAY.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: 3 TO 7 INCHES AT LAKE LEVEL WITH 6 TO 12 INCHES ABOVE 7000 FEET. LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE IN HEAVIER SHOWERS.
* SNOW LEVELS: BELOW LAKE LEVEL.
* IMPACTS: SNOW WILL CREATE SLICK AND ICY ROADS WITH THE WORST CONDITIONS LIKELY FRIDAY EVENING INTO SATURDAY MORNING. THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 80 AND HIGHWAY 50.