Monday, March 23, 2009

Could Use a Few More of Those......

Northstar ended up with just over 20” on top. Along the crest amounts ranged from 2 - 3 ft. Not a bad little storm for the end of March, it was cold & powdery as well. Downtown got shadowed quite a bit from the crest so amounts were closer to 6 – 8 inches. We are only about one storm away from hitting 400” at Northstar & only about 10” off average in the crest! We are officially ahead of the season totals of the past 2 years. 3 years ago had a huge April that put the crest over 600”.

It will be sunny thru the weekend as we begin the week between the ridge out in the Pacific & the trough over the Rockies. This will keep the winds out of the North, & will keep cold air nearby. We may even see a snow shower Wed. night as a storm slides down inside of us. Temps will stay in the 30’s this week on the mtn. & the 40’s in town. Temps will begin to warm about 10 degrees Friday into the weekend as the ridge edges a little closer bringing some warmer air.

Models still back & forth on exactly where a storm goes the middle of next week. Some models want to bring the storm inside of us over Nevada with just some cooler air, & others try to dig a storm off the coast & bring us another cold storm. Storm activity & patterns in the Western Pacific suggest the latter. There is the chance that a trough could form the first two weeks of April bringing cold & snow. We will have to watch that closely. Meanwhile, enjoy the fresh snow & nice weather for the next week. Plenty of snow out there.

Lots of comments coming in about how the snow totals are calculated at the resorts & why there is a difference in the amounts. There is an official way to measure snow, & you can’t be sure all the resorts are able to follow it to a T. You have to allow some room for error. I like to take several locations in the same area & average them. I know that Northstar measures accurately because I have had their technique shared with me & have shared with them my knowledge of accurate snow calculating. Also, Squaw Valley gets their totals from a National Weather Service station on top of the resort, so that would be pretty accurate & is used for totals by the NWS.

Also, there are questions about Northstar getting slightly less snow. Northstar, unlike the ridge of mountains to it’s West, is a volcano formed a very long time ago that sits in the valley between two sets of mountains. Northstar is the reason Lake Tahoe could not drain into Truckee when the glacier that formed it melted. Truckee is actually a few hundred feet lower than the shore of Lake Tahoe. Storms rolling in off the Pacific hit the Sierra & that squeezes the clouds causing them to cool which makes them less able to hold moisture the higher they go. Once they clear the crest they are able to expand & warm which allows them to once again hold more moisture. This will cause quite a bit less precip to fall just to the East of the crest as compared to the West side. This happens everytime the clouds are forced higher as they travel across the mtns.

Northstar is just East of the crest, so the clouds begin to warm & release less snow just before being forced up again by the mtn. & releasing more on top of Northstar. This will cause slightly less snow to fall. If a storm is stronger or coming in from an angle & not straight at the crest, snowfall totals will be pretty close to the crest. Areas like Martis Valley that are flat & just East of the crest will get only a few inches like this past storm, where Northstar will get 2 ft. & the crest close to 3 ft. Good thing about Northstar is that because it has so many trees the snow doesn’t melt as fast as mountains to it’s West. Also the drier clouds will produce slightly drier & fluffier snow than on the crest. Hope that helps, tried to keep it simple. BA


Anonymous said...

so whats the likely hood of snow for the first two weeks of April?

Steve said...

great post! i learned some new things about the area geography!

Anyways, i was just wondering about the forecast for the Northstar area for this coming sunday. Is it going to be warm up there? Also, do you know what the weather and temps will be like in the resorts around South Lake Tahoe (like Kirkwood)?


BA said...

i think we can get a storm or two the first two weeks of April. the pattern is there.

Most resorts should be around 50 degrees on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Agree, excellent post and thx for geography lesson. Does Sierra crest include peaks like Granite Chief or Squaw peak at Squaw and then Ward/Scott peak at Alpine? Trying to get feel for where the crest that you often refer to actually is located.

Did not know that Pluto was volcano and in shadow slightly. Learning lots about area and how weather works, good blog.

Sierra crest is

BA said...

those are all apart of the crest, the crest is just the highest part of the range before the mtns. decend in elevation.

Ed H. Chi said...

nice explanation!