Friday Nov. 20
The fourth winter-like storm in as many weeks is on track to move into the Sierra after the weekend and bring snow to the Tahoe Basin in the days before Thanksgiving. These little systems are adding up to a decent start to the ski and riding season -- even before we've seen any significant impacts from the historically strong El Nino condition that's prompted forecasters to predict a wet winter.
Speaking of El Nino, the latest readings from the Pacific show it is still strong and, in places, growing stronger. Water temperatures are up and the winds are consistent with a major El Nino event. The conditions is expected to peak in mid-winter before easing as we move toward Spring.
The latest storm is shaping up to a be cold but somewhat dry system as its current trajectory would bring it south largely overland rather than over the Pacific. This path, if it holds, would limit the storm's ability to pick up large amounts of moisture before it reaches the Northern Sierra.
The system is forecast to reach far Northern California late Monday and then move into the Sierra Tuesday, bringing snow to the mountain passes by around midday, with snow levels quickly dropping as the system progresses. By Tuesday night we could see light snow below 3000 feet.
With only about half an inch of precipitation expected, we'll likely be measuring snow amounts in inches, not feet, with Tuesday afternoon and night seeing the heaviest accumulations. But the low pressure core of the system will have several waves of energy rotating around it, and we could see snow showers linger into Wednesday and Thursday. Where the showers linger, more snow will pile up.
High temperatures will be in the high 20s and low 30s around Thanksgiving, with lows in Truckee dipping into the single digits early in the week before warming a bit after the holiday.
We will keep our eye on this system, especially the question of whether the forecast trajectory changes a bit. With all that cold air embedded in the system, an over-water trajectory rather than overland would make a big difference in the potential snowfall.
Check the WeatherGeek page at www.tahoeloco.com for updates.
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