THURSDAY JANUARY 14, 5:06 AM .A weak ridge of high pressure is building over California this morning, and it promises to keep Tahoe’s weather fair through at least Friday. We will probably see some inversion, with temperatures almost as warm at the higher elevations as they are in some of the mountain valleys. Morning fog could also be an issue around Truckee and other Tahoe valleys.
A storm approaching the Sierra on Saturday looks to split apart badly as it arrives, with some of its energy going south and most of the rest missing us to the north. We should see some clouds and perhaps some scattered snow showers late Saturday but no significant accumulations.
The real show begins on Sunday. The jet stream is shifting south and will be taking direct aim at Central California and the Sierra, bringing a series of at least three good-sized storms off the Pacific and into the region. The first should be moving in by Sunday afternoon. This storm is forecast to drop two to three inches of precipitation on Tahoe, with snow levels starting out at around 5,500 feet and then dropping from there. That should translate into at least two feet of snow by Monday afternoon.
The jet stream forecast then shows the jet sagging south toward Southern California as the second storm rides in from the Pacific by Tuesday morning. Snow levels should remain low, but most of the precipitation from this storm will probably go to our south. Mammoth could get hammered. Tahoe will have to wait and see.
As of now the strongest storm in the series appears to be the third one. If the jet stream orientation remains to our south we will only get brushed again with the northern edge, but this one is so big that even a swipe could give us significant accumulations. At least one forecast model has the jet stream moving back to the north by Wednesday, and if that happens we could get a direct hit and several feet of new snow.
The Sacramento office of the National Weather Service was talking about 10 feet or more of snow in the forecast as of yesterday. That seemed excessively exuberant. They’ve now backed that off to “five to ten feet” of snow possible. That’s a pretty wide range and seems more plausible. Five feet is definitely doable. We will have to see about the rest of it.