Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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Middle-In Slider On Tap for the Sierra

Another storm will impact the Sierra beginning tomorrow morning and continuing through Friday night. It is a quasi-inside slider, but the trajectory might be more middle-in than truly inside. This storm is colder than the previous storm, but snow levels will begin high on Thursday (~8000 ft.) before dropping late Thursday with the heaviest snowfall on Friday. Plan accordingly...

Forecast Snowfall:

  • Around Tahoe: 18-30" of snow above 8000 ft....Could see up to 3 ft. at highest elevations.
  • Carson Pass down to Mammoth: 2-4 ft above 8000 ft.
  • Highest elevations (> 8000 ft.) from Tioga Pass southward: 4-8 ft. 
  • In the Sierra @ 6000-8000 ft.: 4-18" (Yes I know that's a big range, but depending on how fast snow level do or do not drop will be important...as always)
Our friends at NWS Reno put together a very nice map of forecast snowfall totals for this storm, and it nicely illustrates what we are thinking too. The trajectory (NW-SE) and orientation (positive tilt; or think of a forward slash '/') of the storm will allow plentiful atmospheric moisture to plow into the Sierra, but unlike the last storm, a trough with cold air will sweep NW-SE along the Sierra lowering snow levels and increasing snow totals. 

Some might be wondering if we will get hosed like the last storm with the stubborn snow levels. Well, as I said above, we have a trough that moves directly over the Sierra with plenty of cold air and all of the deterministic and ensemble models show us getting a healthy helping of snow. The plot below shows a number of different model solutions for total precipitation and snowfall at the Central Sierra Snow Lab, which sits at 6,950 ft. (below). 

So while the meter sticks should be ready to go above 8000 ft., especially south of Tahoe (Mammoth are the big winners!), don't despair too much because from mid-mountain to the summit around Tahoe will see 8-30" of wet then slightly drier snow. 

So get your gear and work excuses ready for Friday to enjoy some storm skiing/riding! And if you can't make it Friday, there will still be plenty of good snow to enjoy over the weekend. 

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