We are waiting out another dry pattern through Tuesday which is good news for travel. High pressure will remain over the region with partly-mostly sunny skies and highs into the 40s near the base and 30s up top.
The latest model runs show this system taking on a bit of negative tilt and weakening as it moves inland, which will bring more of a southerly flow, and ridgetop winds from the south could be gusting up to 90-100+ mph on Wednesday! That will likely close some upper mountain lifts, so keep that in mind if you plan to try out your new skis from Santa on Wednesday.
The timing for the snow to move in over the northern Sierra looks to be between the afternoon and evening hours on Wednesday. This looks to be a fast-moving system, and it could clear the region by Thursday morning.
The latest precipitation forecasts only show around 0.25 – 1.0 inches of precipitation falling over the mountain. The snow levels may start out around 7000 ft. Wednesday afternoon, but then look to fall to near the base pretty quickly. They could hover there for most of the storm before falling below 5000 ft. near the end as the cold front moves through.
That would bring pretty typical Sierra snow ratios of around 10:1 near 7000 ft. and 12:1 near 8000 ft. We could see 1-4 inches of snow at the base by Thursday morning, and 2-6 inches on the upper mountain. We will continue to fine-tune the forecast over the next few days.
Thursday we could see some clearing with partly sunny skies and lighter winds. Temperatures should be a few degrees cooler behind the front, but then southerly flow will return ahead of the next storm that could move in sometime on Friday, which will start to warm the temperatures a little. Highs are likely in the 30s for most of the day.
Friday – Saturday Storm:
This storm could run into the same issues as the first storm and is forecast to weaken as it moves inland sometime on Friday into next Saturday the 30th. We could see southerly flow again preventing good spillover and weakening of the storm as it moves through the Sierra.
If the current forecast trends hold through the next week, this could be another storm that brings snow in inches instead of feet, but we’ll take back-to-back storms that bring several inches each!
New Year’s Eve – Day:
Currently, we look to see a drier day with partly-mostly sunny skies and seasonal temperatures on New Year’s Eve, much different than the huge snowstorm last year. A few models try to bring a weak system through on New Year’s Day, with a few snow showers, so we’ll watch for that.
Going into the 1st week of January, the latest long-range model runs continue to show the western ridge retreating north, and troughing from the northeast Pacific into CA and across the southern U.S. That is starting to look like a more typical El Nino pattern, with the jet stream forecast to move through to our south, but the jet stream winds are forecast to be on the weaker side.
The storm door may be somewhat open, but we may only continue to see weak-moderate storms moving through northern CA through most of the 1st week of January. We will continue to watch the trends to see when we could see a big storm.