This article was originally posted on OpenSnow.com by Bryan Allegretto.
Cold and Snowy weather continues through Thursday. Today into tonight we have heavy snowfall and high winds with blizzard conditions. Snow levels may come up just above lake level this afternoon before falling again this evening. We could see an additional 11-31 inches at lake level by Tuesday morning, and 19-45 inches on the mountains. Wednesday colder air moves in with lighter snow showers. Winds will still be strong on the mountain tops. Highs will only be in the 20’s. We could see several more inches of snow across the Tahoe basin. Wednesday night into Thursday a final storm moves through bringing light powdery snow to the area. We could see an additional 2-10 inches at lake level, and 3-12 inches on the mountains. In total from today through Thursday we could see 15-45 inches at lake level, and 2-5 feet on the mountains. Highest amounts on the West side of the lake. We see high pressure build in for the weekend with lots of sun and calmer winds. Highs are in the 20’s Friday and then into the 30’s for the holiday weekend. The calm weather may continue Tuesday and Wednesday next week before another period of active weather may begin by next Thursday.
Short Term Forecast
The ski resorts picked up around 2-4 feet of snow in the past 24 hours.
Heavy snow continues to fall this morning. Heavy snow will continue through tonight as and atmospheric river of precipitation aims at Central CA overnight. Winds will pick up today with ridge gusts over 100 mph and valley gusts to 50 mph. That will create blizzard conditions with zero visibility over mountain passes, and huge snow drifts. Here is a quote from the NWS Reno this morning.
“BOTTOM LINE: DO NOT TRAVEL IN THE SIERRA. LIFE THREATENING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ARE OCCURING AND WILL CONTINUE THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.”
There are reports this morning of visibility down to 10 feet on the highways. Usually with snow coming in this heavy and winds that will be that strong into tonight, I-80 will get shutdown at some point. This storm is dropping significant snow, but with the high winds there will be many lift closures if not resort closures continuing. So check with your mountain.
The good news is that the forecast is on track and the snow will continue to fall through Thursday. Yesterday I mentioned the trend on the models to our South with the final wave Thursday, but this morning they have trended back North over our area. Let’s break it down…
Heavy snow today as moisture streams in from the wave overnight and then the AR moving in this afternoon. The temperatures rose a few degrees overnight and are holding steady early this morning. Temperatures are right around freezing at lake level so the snow consistency is thick, and may become wet as temperatures nudge up a bit more today.
Snow levels are still forecast on the GFS to briefly rise to 6500′ this afternoon and then drop this evening below lake level. The NAM still shows a max of 6000′. If the snowfall stays consistently heavy this afternoon it may not allow enough warm air to move in to raise snow levels, and the heavy snowfall could drag snow levels to lake level the entire time. So we may have all snow to lake level even though the consistency is wetter this afternoon. I did knock a few inches off the low end forecast in case we do mix with rain this afternoon.
Here is the forecast for today and tonight.
That’s up to 4 more feet of snow on the mountains by tomorrow morning along the crest. The heaviest snow moves out Wednesday morning, but colder air moves in and snow showers will continue through the day and into Wednesday night. This will bring a lighter and more powdery snow with strong winds still blowing the snow around.
Here is the updated forecast for Wednesday and Wednesday night.
The final low moving inland Thursday is now tracking over the Central Sierra on the latest model runs. A low may also form over Nevada Thursday helping to bring snow into Nevada. That may mean similar amounts of snow across the entire Tahoe basin. Temperatures are still in the 20’s so more light powdery snow. Winds will be gusty but shouldn’t be quite as strong Thursday.
Here is the Thursday snowfall forecast.
The forecast models this morning, NAM, GFS, CMC, ECMWF, are all very similar for precip totals through Thursday. We could see up to 3 additional inches of liquid on the East side of the lake, and up to 4.5 inches of liquid West of the lake along the crest. Here is the GFS total precip forecast through Thursday. (you have to back out the overnight amounts that fell)
Here is the the updated total snowfall forecast for today through Thursday for additional snowfall.
This is an interesting 2 week period. We saw 4-7 feet of snow last week. Then 5-10 inches of rain over the weekend on top of that snow compacting, melting, and saturating it. Then heavier wet snow started Sunday night into Monday. The snow was lighter overnight but the lower levels are thicker consistency today into tonight. Then light and powdery snow on top Wednesday-Thursday.
Avalanche dangers will be high with all the snow and drifts on the cornices causing slabs to break off so be very careful. With the cold air moving in the base will become a deep glacier with thicker snow on top and lighter snow on top of that. The snow settles after the storm, the sun comes out Friday through weekend, winds calm down, and temperatures are in the 30’s. I can’t remember the last time we had conditions that amazing for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Tahoe is going to be jamming this weekend.
OpenSnow was created by a team of local weather forecasters who are life-long skiers and riders. During the winter, our forecasters write “Daily Snow” updates that will point you toward the best snow conditions. You can also use our mountain-specific forecasts, webcams, and snow reports to find the best snow.