Breaking Down the Storm

Category: Weather

I am going to break this storm down by 12 hour periods.  This is a complex storm with many pieces that make for forecaster headaches.   


Today moisture is streaming in off the Pacific.  We could see some light showers later today..  Snow levels could initially start below 7000 feet with the dry air in place, but they will rise above 7000 feet by tonight.  Maybe an inch of snow this afternoon.  Highs today in the 30's on the mountain.  Mountain top winds this morning are already up to 50 mph, and should increase into the afternoon.  So we should see lift closures through Friday on the upper mountain.


Tonight we are still expecting mostly lighter precipitation with the best chance for showers along the crest.  Snow levels sitting around 7500-8000 feet.  We could see 1-3 inches above the snow line.


With the Southerly flow ahead of the incoming low on Wednesday we are expecting the shadowing to continue for the Tahoe basin.  Lighter showers possible in the basin with the heavier showers confined to the crest or West of the crest.  Snow levels sitting around 7500-8000 feet.  We could see another 1-3 inches of snow above the snow line.  Winds increase with gusts to 70+ mph on the ridges.

Wednesday Night:

Wednesday night is when the heavier precipitation moves in with heavy rain and snow push in.  The issue will be that snow levels stay in the 7500-8000 foot range.  So lots of rain below that, and lots of heavy wet snow above that.  We could see 8-13 inches above the snow line.


Thursday things get more interesting at the cold front pushing down form the North stars to feed in colder air, and continues the heavy precipitation.  Thursday should have the heavy precip of the storm as the snow levels are falling, which makes forecasting below 8k very tricky.  It looks like snow levels could be down to 7000 feet by midday, and to the base by evening.  With the very heavy precip they could drag down a little faster.  We could see an additional 7-11 inches above 7000 feet, and 15-20 inches above 8000 feet.  Winds may gust to 90+ mph on the mountain tops Thursday.  

Thursday Night:

Thursday night colder air is moving in and snow showers are firing up behind the front, with snow ratios increasing bringing in some fluffier snow.  The showers may cut-off after midnight.  We could see an additional 3-6 inches of snow down to the base.


On all of the model runs there is a dramatic break in the precip from the early morning hours Friday until Friday evening.  You may see the sun come out on Friday and think the storm is over, but it's just a gap between waves.  It will be colder with highs in the 20's on the mountain.  It will still be windy as well but the winds should come down from Thursday.

Friday Night:

Friday night another front/wave looks like it will move in behind the front on Thursday and ahead of another low moving down the coast.  With the colder air in place we will see much lighter density snow falling on top of the base building snow from the earlier part of the storm.  We could see an additional 5-9 inches of snow.


Saturday we could see some linger snow showers in the morning from the departing wave and increasing snow showers in the afternoon from the final low spinning into CA.  Only expecting light accumulations or even another break in the action for Saturday, with the winds coming down a bit more and temperatures remaining cold with highs in the 20's on the mountain.

Saturday Night:

The forecast models have trended back South with the track of the final area of low pressure moving inland Saturday night.  They now have it moving inland over Northern CA bringing one last shot of snow.  This would be the icing on the cake before we head into Spring weather next week.  We could see final 6-11 inches of snow.

In all this is a 5 day event with many moving parts to watch.  In total we could see 2-5 feet of snow on the mountain above 7,000 feet, and 1-2 feet from the base (6,000') up to 7000 feet.


Next week we are expecting high pressure to build in with a week of quiet weather and highs warming into the 40's.  

Some long-range models show quiet weather in the extended forecast.  Others drop a trough into the West Coast again the first week of April opening the door to possible storms.