Monday, January 2, 2017

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Snowy start to January

I spent the afternoon at Alpine Meadows today. The snow was fantastic and the lift lines were fantastically long. Upper mountain was shut down all day due to high winds, and that trend will likely continue through at least Thursday. About 8-10" fell overnight and snow continued throughout the day making for a good start to this exciting storm cycle coming up. The first wave is winding down and several more inches will fall at the resorts overnight.

Not much break before the next wave arrives tomorrow afternoon. The water vapor satellite image below shows a classic setup for a good Sierra snowfall. We have a cold upper level low currently off the coast of Oregon that will merge with a good moisture tap that can be seen off the coast of central California.



Tahoe resorts should see several feet of snow through Thursday Morning, with snow levels not being an issue with this storm. The 72 hour forecast from the GFS show impressive snowfall over much of the length of the Sierra.


However, temperatures will get warmer with this next storm (as seen in the image below), and snow will contain more water (less fluffy powder). This is actually a good thing for our snowpack, but will make for some sketchy avalanche conditions.



We should see a break in the action Thursday into Friday, but then things get really interesting as we go into the weekend. It is looking more likely that another atmospheric river will impact the region with significant precipitation through the weekend and maybe into next week. The big question right now is snow levels. There is a good chance snow levels will rise to lake level and maybe much higher. Details with these storms change rapidly so we will have better snowfall estimate later this week.

The ensemble shown below, consisting of about 20 different forecast runs, shows a very consistent wet pattern ahead with 10-15"+ precipitin through the next 7 days with 80-100" of snow. This at Donner Summit. If it stays cold enough, these numbers could verify, but if it warms too much snowfall will be much less.


Enjoy the snow this week and be safe out there. Avalanche danger will get progressively worse over the next several days, so use caution and have fun!

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