Lake Tahoe Snow on the Way? Powder Days Ahead?
The Lake Tahoe area is on the cusp of what could be a game changing next few days of wet and stormy weather or another weather model wipe-out. I for one am in the middle on this one thinking Lake Tahoe will see high winds on Friday night ushering in a brief period of snow on Saturday. If, if, if the low slides down the California coast and parks just offshore the Sierras and Lake Tahoe could be in a for a multi-day snow event which potentially could lay down 2-3 feet of light champagne snow. If the low parks too far west then we might see a foot or so and if the low parks over land we might see under a foot! Keep you fingers crossed that the cold low can jettison enough moisture into the Sierras and Lake to give us a great start to the season and a very Merry Christmas!
The models into late next week are in perfect disagreement where the GFS brings another big storm to the Sierras and the European builds high pressure and clearing skies instead. The GFS has actually (so far) been much more consisitent with the upcoming weather event so I will dance with the one who brung me and go with another round of weather late next week. I must be going crazy!
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service Reno Nevada
320 PM PST Thursday Dec 11 2008
..high winds possible Friday night and Saturday…
..Periods of snow this weekend into early next week…
Forecast on track for significant cold frontal passage Friday night
and Saturday morning and periods of snow into early next week.
Before the real action hits…we must fist deal with a weak system
moving through northern Nevada tonight and into the Great Basin
Friday morning. There is potential for light showers near the
Oregon border/northern Washoe County to Pershing County. Any precipitation
totals should be just a few hundredths at best.
The very strong cold front will drop out of the Pacific northwest Friday and is
expected to move into northern Nevada and northeastern California Friday
evening and through Mono/Mineral counties Saturday morning. Ahead of
the front…strong winds are anticipated and have upgraded the high
wind watches for Mono/Mineral and the Reno/cirrocumulus zones to warnings as
confidence is fairly high that wind warning criteria will be met.
Locally run mesoscale model shows a nice standing wave over Mono
County with winds of over 80 kts ducting down into the leeside
slopes of the Sierra. Standing wave signature is not as pronounced
further north into Reno…but with strong tropopause fold…impressive 700
winds and locally run wind program supporting high winds..have
upgraded the watch. Left the watch going for Lake Tahoe as strong
winds in the lower elevations are not as certain due to more precipitation
moving into the basin than previous thinking. Winds are still
expected to exceed 100 miles per hour over the ridges…but snowfall tends to
kill wind potential in the lower elevations. Have added wind
advisories to all other zones as gusts over 45 miles per hour are likely ahead
of the front…but jet set up and mountain wave activity isnt ideal
for widespread gusts meeting warning criteria.
The best chances of snowfall in the short term is expected Friday
night along and behind the front. Model solutions support 0.25-0.4″
of liquid over the higher terrain of the Tahoe basin. With the cold
temperatures…snow ratios would lead to up to 3 inches in the lower
elevations…including lake level…with as much as six or seven
inches above 7000 feet. Snow is also expected to accumulate in
Lassen and eastern Plumas counties and over the Surprise Valley of
California and into northern Washoe County. Have included 1 to 3
inches of snow for these areas. In western Nevada there will be hit
and miss snow showers but dont expect more than local accumulations
of up to an inch. Scattered to numerous convective snow showers will
continue Saturday and Saturday night due to good instability with
cold air aloft…but at this time accumulations will likely be less
than an inch in most places…with up to a several inches in favored
areas of the Sierra. Would be more snowfall if there was better
moisture and orographic lift into the Sierra.
The shock and awe of this system will be the sudden drop in
temperatures with most valley locations struggling to get out of the
30s Saturday with Sierra temperatures only peaking in the 20s. A
significant change compared to the mild winter season we have
experienced so far. Milne
Long term /Monday through Thursday/…
models are starting to diverge on the details in the long term
however all solutions continue to indicate active weather through
the period. The main uncertainties continue to be the track of the
low along the West Coast and the time duration that it lingers in a
favorable position to bring precipitation to the County Warning Area.
The Euro has slowed down the track of the low over the last 24 hours
which would be more favorable for a prolonger precipitation event. The
latest GFS runs have trended a little further offshore which would
mean a better overwater trajectory and moisture tap…however if it
tracks too far to the west the best dynamics and onshore flow would
be limited to the California coastline. A blend of these two
solutions matches well with the going forecast so there are no
significant changes with the expectation that models come back into
line over the next few runs.
On Monday the low will be positioned along the West Coast somewhere
from northern California to Washington with embedded shortwave energy and
strong jet dynamics over the Sierra. There is also decent isentropic
upglide ahead of the low however it appears to be rather shallow.
This will all lead to periods of moderate snowfall in the Sierra
with decreasing chances to the south and east toward central Nevada.
A cold and unstable airmass will bring snow to all elevations with
limited shadowing from the Sierra.
There appears to be a break in the upper forcing sometime Tuesday or
Wednesday but models can’t decide when. Either way…kept probability of precipitation above
climatology values as precipitation can’t be ruled out during this active period.
The GFS keeps wanting to dig another cold low down the West Coast by
Thursday while the Euro has a much weaker wave that drops into the
northern rockies. There are several GFS ensemble members that support the
West Coast low and just as many that have a ridge building into the
West Coast. With all the model uncertainty…there is currently
little confidence in the details beyond day 5 however the active
weather pattern should continue. Jordan
The weather is going to change and change dramatically starting late Friday with winds ahead of the artic front heralding in much colder air. The precipitation appears to be spotty initially but a number of the weather models are suggesting that the low will set up off of the northern California coast which would allow Pacific moisture to betapped into creating a possible major and prolonged snowstorm for the Lake Tahoe basin and the entire Sierra. Snow easily may fall to the hills around the Bay Area and definately should coat the Nevada valleys as well.
Keep you fingers crossed that the low does indeed setup off of the coast and taps the Pacific moisture but whatever happens it will be cold enough for at least 5-7 days for possible around the clock snowmaking with a bit of mother natures natural stuff thrown in for good measure.
Here is the weather synopsis for December 10:
Area forecast discussion National Weather Service Reno Nevada 235 am PST Wednesday Dec 10 2008 Short term... Quiet weather will continue through Thursday before significant changes develop by Friday. A high pressure ridge will remain along the West Coast today keeping Valley High temperatures a few degrees above normal. Middle and upper slopes will remain warm as inversions remain in place. A weak upper level disturbance will pass over the area Thursday evening which will retrograde the ridge and bring some cloud cover and slight cooling to the northern half of the County Warning Area. A few light showers cannot be ruled out Thursday night over northern Nevada associated with this disturbance...but the chance of measurable precipitation is too low at this time to include in the forecast. A dramatic change will occur beginning on Friday. A strong cold front will approach the area from the north on Friday. Strong pressure and thermal gradients ahead of the front will bring breezy conditions to the area by Friday afternoon with stronger winds expected Friday night into Saturday morning...especially in the Sierra and along Highway 395. This will break any inversions and bring the warmest weather of the week to many areas over the southern half of the area. Model soundings and cross sections also indicate a critical layer developing near ridge top with very stable air above the critical layer. This indicates impressive downslope wind potential developing to the Lee of the mountains...especially Friday night. Wind gusts during the day on Friday will likely approach 30-35 miles per hour especially north of Highway 50. By Friday night...winds in excess of 50 miles per hour will likely develop in some lower elevations with locally stronger winds. The main question is how widespread these stronger winds will be. 700 mb winds increase to 50-60 kts by Friday night which will likely cause winds along the Sierra ridges to peak above 90 miles per hour. Therefore wind statements of some kind will be needed in some areas for Friday night. Later shifts can analyze this potential and issue statements as needed. Good frontogenesis will also develop along the front by Friday evening over northern zones. Probability of precipitation were increased over the far north as a moderate area of precipitation will likely be located right along the front as stability decreases. Snow levels will drop quickly as the front passes with a quick change from rain to snow expected. Gmcguire Long term /Saturday through Tuesday/... Really no big changes in the synoptic pattern from the 00z model solutions again. A large and cold trough will be over the west most of the period with additional energy dropping south along the Pacific coast. Arctic cold front will be pushing across the area Saturday bringing a good chance for at least advisory level winds ahead of it. Front looks drier today than yesterday. Expect a chance of rain ahead of the front and snow behind it. Temperatures in the Sierra will be below freezing for several days...and the Nevada valleys high may struggle to reach 35-40 degrees Sunday through Tuesday. Model agreement is better Sunday through Tuesday with somewhat low spread in the ensemble data. Only big concern is slightly different speeds in the models on how fast the energy will drop south. 00z GFS is a bit slower than the European model (ecmwf) which has the low clearing the area late Tuesday night/early Wednesday. The GFS keeps the low over the Sierra until Wednesday. Even most ensemble members show a low or trough slowly moving south along the coast Sunday through Tuesday. The biggest concern for this period is the moist onshore flow Sunday through Tuesday...with favorable forcing and instability in the model data. The pattern immediately brings the concern for a multi day snow event in the Sierra. Have increased probability of precipitation Sunday and Monday to likely in the Sierra due to the improved model agreement and lower ensemble spreads. Snow ratios will be high...on the order of 20-30 to 1 for the Sierra peaks and 15 to 1 for areas down to 6000 feet including the Tahoe basin. So even quantitative precipitation forecast totals as low as 0.50 inches would bring significant powdery accumulations to the Sierra. Snow amounts may also be a concern for western Nevada Monday and Tuesday. Based on the instability and lift in the 00z runs...snow should easily push over the Sierra. Still several days to go until the event arrives so there could be changes in the model solutions. For now they seem to be trending toward a better chance for a winter storm.
Lake Tahoe Weather Forecast-Getting Cold!
Lake Tahoe Weather-Short Term
Quiet weather will continue through Thursday before a pattern change
takes place. High pressure will remain along the California coast through
Wednesday. A decent pressure gradient along the Sierra this morning
has produced ridge gusts up to 70 miles per hour over the Sierra in the Tahoe
basin and above 90 miles per hour in Mono County. These winds will decrease
during the morning…will still gust up to 50 miles per hour between sunrise
and midday before dropping off. Northeast surface winds over Lake
Tahoe will be 15-18 miles per hour with gusts 25-30 miles per hour early this morning
before diminishing after sunrise.
Temperatures will be slightly cooler in some valley areas of western Nevada
as strong inversions set up once again. Warm air aloft increases
today which will allow higher elevations to warm several degrees
from yesterday. High temperatures in western Nevada valleys will remain in
the middle 40s today…while highs in the Sierra will range from the
middle 40s to around 50.
A weak short wave will brush northern and eastern Nevada on Thursday which will
bring some cooling to northern areas of the County Warning Area as the ridge retrogrades
into the Pacific. Otherwise no significant weather is expected with
this feature. Gmcguire
Lake Tahoe Weather Long Term
Made a few adjustments to the forecast as timing confidence grows
for initial storm late this week. Really no big changes in the 00z
model solutions. Model agreement increasing along with decreasing
spread in the ensemble data fro Friday and Saturday. Ensemble spread
remains high for Sunday and into early next week where the forecast
is less confident.
GFS/European model (ecmwf) bring the front into the northern areas late Friday/early
Saturday and drive it into the southern areas Saturday afternoon.
Surface thermal and pressure gradients increase rapidly Friday
afternoon and Friday night ahead of the front. With highs forecast
to drop 20-30 degrees between Friday and Sunday…little doubt there
will be a good to significant wind event as the cold front blasts
across the area. 700 mb winds at 55-65 kts…with GFS soundings and
cross sections showing a favorable thermal profile that can produce
strong gusts along the Sierra front. Significantly increased wind
speeds to near Wind Advisory criteria /gusts 45 miles per hour/ for Friday
night…which may be on the low side for some locations.
On Saturday best chance for rain with an abrupt change to snow will
be along the front. Behind the front…cold moist and unstable air
will be in place so at least snow showers will remain possible into
early next week.
For Sunday and Monday…much uncertainty here as models have
different ideas on how additional moisture and energy will reach the
area. What seems certain at this time is temperatures will remain
below normal with possibility of a second system affecting the area.
00z GFS solution moves energy south along the Oregon and Washington
coasts. This would allow the system to direct Pacific moisture into
the Sierra and western Nevada Sunday through Tuesday. Certainly a
favorable pattern for significant snow accumulations.
The 00z European model (ecmwf) keeps the low onshore and thus has lower amounts of
moisture for Sunday and Monday. However…still enough to produce a
chance of snow all areas with the cold temperatures. So increased
snow chances to at least 30 percent all areas for Sunday and
Monday. The European model (ecmwf) flattens the flow Tuesday…but pushes the jet
directly over the Sierra…which also leans toward being favorable
for accumulating snow if it verifies.
Statement as of 3:10 PM PST on December 08, 2008
… Weather pattern change expected by this weekend…
A very cold North Pacific storm system is expected to push into
the region by this weekend… bringing an abrupt change to the mild
and dry weather we have been seeing since the Thanksgiving Holiday.
This cold system will bring strong winds to the area Friday and
Saturday. A significant cold front will sweep through our area
early Saturday morning. Temperatures are expected to plummet this
weekend with highs on Saturday and Sunday only in the 30s across
most of the lower valleys… highs in the teens and 20s in the
Sierra. Snow levels are expected to drop to all valley
floors… but the amount of moisture with this system remains
If you have travel plans for the weekend in the Sierra and western
Nevada… be prepared for winter driving conditions. Check our
website at www.Weather.Gov/Reno for updates on how these storms
may impact weekend travel.
It looks like we may actually have a pattern change to wet weather starting a week from Sunday. Read Accuweather blog from Ken Clark