The last week has been kind to the resorts in Tahoe and California and the good news is that I don’t see that trend breaking any time soon. Of course I cannot predict the details of each storm more than 3-5 days in advance, but I can look at the longer-range computer models and search for trends. At this point, the trend is pointing toward snow!
Before looking ahead, let’s recap the last storm. In Colorado, a strong cold front moved through last Saturday night and brought 6-11 inches to the mountains, with Beaver Creek reporting the most snow at 11 inches. A moist wind from the northwest then kept snow in the air on Monday and Tuesday and another 4-8 inches fell. In Tahoe, the weekend was quiet but a strong storm brushed California from Tuesday night through Wednesday night and deposited up to 21 inches of snow at the summit of Kirkwood. On the season, Kirkwood is reporting 130 inches and Northstar is reporting 150 inches which puts both resorts at more than a quarter of average snow for the entire season and it’s only December 13th. Fantastic!
Looking ahead, a series of storms will hit Colorado on Friday through Sunday, and while none of them individually will be big snow producers for Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, or Beaver Creek, there will be snow in the air for three days and this should amount to at least 6-10 inches of snow through the weekend if everything comes together nicely. Usually I can be more specific about the times of heavier snow and the forecasted totals at each resort, but because the snow will come from a series of weaker storms rather than one strong storm, forecasting the details is next to impossible 3-4 days away. However, I can say that Friday night will likely be the time of heaviest snow for this area. In the long range, it does appear at least one more storm will hit Colorado toward the middle of next week (December 19th, ish).
While Colorado does well in this pattern, I think Tahoe will be the big winner over the coming weeks. A storm will sneak by Tahoe on Friday into Saturday with just a glancing blow of snow, but the next big storm won’t be far away and should arrive Sunday into Monday with the biggest storm coming Monday into Tuesday. The longer-range models even have another storm coming next Thursday. Overall, I’m confident of at least a few big storms in Tahoe over the next two weeks.
Here is the snow forecast for the next 5-days. There will be more snow in Tahoe next Sunday through Monday but I’m more unsure of the exact amounts.
Enjoy the powder!
Meteorologist Joel Gratz is the founder and CEO of opensnow.com and is based in Boulder, Colo.