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3-5 Feet or More Snow Expected in The Sierra

A powerful storm is expected to provide 12-18 inches in the Sierra Nevada at lake level and 2-4 feet at upper elevations late Wednesday night into Thursday evening.

Total snowfall will be 4-5 feet at upper elevations of the Sierra with higher amounts on the Sierra Crest Wednesday night to Friday morning.

This incoming storm is the going to crush the mountains with heavy winds initially (The real McCoy). Winds are like the pessimist that just wants to crush your endorphins. Well, it's going to happen Wednesday night and early Thursday (Peak gusts of 100 MPH), however, the optimist jumps in and decreases these speeds by midday. It not likely upper terrain will open at many resorts Thursday. Your choice? 1) Wait in line to find out your favorite terrain is not opening. 2) Sit on the couch looking at the websites hoping it never opens (anxiety). While I'm not optimistic much terrain will open Thursday, I would still get out and hope for the impossible (winds will decrease as the day goes on). Snow densities will be wet Wednesday night with significant avalanche dangers increasing for Thursday! Colder air midday Thursday and higher quality snow (Lower densities) will frost the cream with some decent pow for late Thursday or early Friday. There are likely to be road closures at upper elevations.

An Avalanche watch has already been issued for the Sierra. A Blizzard Warning has been issued above 7,000 feet.

Perhaps consider terrain that is more wind sheltered or high enough for decent densities. Winds will decrease with a cold front late Thursday morning. This will increase the lower density pow factor. Snow levels at 6500 feet can still land decent snow to lower elevations as heavy precip will cool the actual freezing level lower to lake level. It's hard to predict how much snow will fall around the lake including Truckee. Some models point to 1-2 feet in Truckee (wildcard).

Below: Total Sierra Snow through Friday- Fairly widespread 3-4 feet at upper elevations in most of the Sierra. Higher amounts are likely for some isolated areas. - Image- Weatherbell

The current year to date SWE (Total water in the snowpack) is at 84% of average. The average amount of actual precipitation is at 75% of normal. According to the National Weather Service in Reno, it's likely that this storm will push the total snowpack averages (SWE) to near normal.

Below: Total Moisture for the Tahoe Basin YTD (8.9 inches). Normal averages are 10.6

What's interesting is that on this date last year the Tahoe Basin only had 3.0 inches of precipitation on the same date (current is 8.9). That's a far improvement from the 2017/18 season that went on to become a record year with Miracle March. This storm will likely push these numbers to normal or above normal by Friday.

Finally, in the extended period, most of this moisture extends into the Rockies mid to late this week with some healthy amounts expected, especially for the Wasatch, Tetons, and most of western Colorado. Another storm is on tap albeit lighter for the Sierra by Sunday night.

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