Stormy Weekend, Tough Mountain Travel

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Winter weather will come charging back into the region this weekend, and the National Weather Service has issued a mountain Winter Storm Warning from Friday afternoon all the way through Monday. There are two separate systems coming through, the first of which will bring snow above 6,500-7,000′ on Friday afternoon through Saturday. Another storm front will come in later Sunday, this one colder, which will drop snow levels all the way down to the valley floors. The mountains will provide enough lift to keep precipitation up there going almost continually between the two storms, and although things may ease up a bit Saturday night into Sunday morning, it is best you get any mountain travel out of the way before late Friday afternoon. By the time the second storm ends we could be looking at another 4-5 feet of snow in the upper elevations of the mountains.

snowfall
In the valleys, initially there will be a fair amount of shadowing late Friday, but enough spillover early Saturday to make some rain almost a sure bet. The second storm Sunday night into Monday could create some commuting issues with slippery roads Monday morning.

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Winter Storms Returning

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We have another couple of mostly dry and mild days left before a series of winter storms come back through the region. High temperatures on Thursday will top out in the upper 50s and then again in the mid-50s on Friday. Winds will also pick up on Friday ahead of a moderately strong winter storm (A Winter Storm Watch has been posted for the mountains from late Friday through Saturday). There will be significant shadowing occurring in the valleys with this storm, but some spillover valley rain is expected starting late Friday night into Saturday. The mountains can expect to see anywhere from several inches at the lake to a couple of feet of snow in the upper elevations over the weekend. Snow levels could drop to the valley floor by the end of the weekend, although heavy accumulations in the valleys aren’t expected.

A Return To A Stormy Pattern Ahead

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After a mild and dry stretch to nearly finish off January, it looks like some wetter weather will work its way back into the region. Tuesday should stay mostly dry and mild, with only a few showers possible up in the mountains. Precipitation chances increase slightly Wednesday and Thursday with a couple of weak systems moving through, with stronger storms moving through Friday and Saturday. Snow levels should remain above Lake Tahoe until the weekend, when they will drop to somewhere between the lake and the valley floor.

Blizzard Warning Upcoming for the Mountains

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A series of powerful storms will make travel across the mountains difficult if not impossible late Wednesday through Thursday. In the short term, the valley is under a Winter Weather Advisory tonight into early tomorrow morning, with accumulations of up to a few inches in the valley with more possible in the foothills. Wednesday starts with a bit of a break, before a very powerful storm brings high winds and heavy snow to the mountains (and possibly significant rain to the valleys.) A Blizzard Warning is in effect above 7,000′ for the mountains from 7 pm Wednesday until 7 am Thursday. A Winter Storm Warning is also posted starting 4 pm Wednesday running into early Friday morning. Conditions dry up Friday and Saturday before the next storm (not as strong this time) comes in on Sunday.

Treacherous Mountain Storm Approaching

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A very active week is setting up weather-wise in our region. A series of storm fronts will move through the region before drying up at the end of the work week. The first storm will likely result in fairly light precipitation of rain and snow into Tuesday morning, with the focus of heavier precipitation off to the east. After a brief break, a couple of stronger storms will move through the region Wednesday and Thursday, with very strong impacts on travel, especially in the mountains. Snow levels will vacillate between the valleys floors to just above Lake Tahoe as the storms move in. The strongest storms will likely come late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. High winds could create blizzard conditions over the mountains on Thursday.
Conditions dry out by Friday, and the weekend is shaping up to be dry and mild.

Bit of a Break… And The Difference Between Freezing Rain and Sleet

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After closed passes, heavy snow and high winds, the weather conditions will calm down as we head into the work week. Warmer air will move into the region and scattered rain and snow showers will decrease Monday morning after heavy snow causes a very difficult time getting across the Sierra. Temperatures will be mild through the rest of the work week (near the 50 degree mark in Reno) with the next storm moving through on Wednesday, with mountain snow above 6,500’ and valley rain.

sleet

Many have asked me what the difference between freezing rain and sleet is. Sleet is basically snow that starts to melt on the way down, and falls as a mix of rain and snow. Freezing rain is precipitation that has completely melted into rain on the way down, and then falls into cold air at the surface that is below freezing. This rain usually freezes rapidly as it hits the ground, and is perhaps the most dangerous winter weather pattern. How do you get it?

sleet-formation

In general (and perhaps obviously) you need to have warm air aloft on top of cold air at the surface… along with (again obviously) some rain. This can occur a couple of different ways. A warm front will always shove warm air up over colder surface air, and is a relatively common way to get freezing rain in the central plains states. Here in Nevada, these cold air inversions that we have been having can also trap enough cold air in the valleys to create freezing rain, although it is fairly rare.

freezing_rain_in_canada-e1484681101769

 

 

Back to a Stormy Pattern

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After a dry and warm Friday, the weather pattern will change as we go into the weekend, with a series of storms lined up to come through. None of the storms are particularly strong in and of themselves, but cumulatively they could add a nice boost to the mountain snowpack. The strongest of the storms gets going Saturday, with snow levels that will approach the valley floors, but it isn’t likely we will get any valley accumulations, and we will see significant shadowing out due to strong southwesterly flow over the mountains. A Winter Storm Watch is posted for the mountains starting early Saturday morning and going through Sunday morning. Snowfall amounts will range from a few inches at Lake Tahoe to a foot or more on the passes.

The weather remains unstable through the middle of next week with scattered valley rain and mountain snow.

Happy (Cold) New Year!

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We will have a very cold introduction to 2019, as clearing skies and a cold airmass will combine to ring in downtown Reno temperatures down into the 20s with wind chills that could drop into the teens. And the first day of the New Year will start out at sunrise in the tees (without wind chills, topping out in the mid-30s under mostly sunny skies. The first week of the New Year will be mostly dry, with a warming trend into the weekend with the low 50s reachable by the weekend. A weak storm system gives us our first chance of 2019 rain or snow by Sunday.

Cold New Year’s Eve!

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The last weekend of 2018 should be dry and mild, with a Sunday cold front coming through that will drop our temperatures back enough to make a chilly start to 2019. Saturday should be sunny with highs in the 40s pretty much everywhere, followed by a similar low pressure center to Thursday’s that will drop down across the eastern side of Nevada, dropping the highs from the upper 40s on Sunday to the mid-30s on New Year’s Eve Monday. At midnight on New Year ‘s Eve be prepared for temperatures already in the 20s with just a few clouds. The skies clear out and temperatures will rebound back into the low 50s by the end of the week.

Winter Officially Starts… With a Winter Storm Watch

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For those of you keeping score, winter officially began at 2:22 pm local time today (Friday.) And as is not always the case, this time the weather will play along.

A few light mountain showers should dry up for Saturday, before a moderate winter storm makes its way into the region late Sunday into early Christmas morning. Saturday’s high temperature will peak in the upper 40s with light winds, climbing to the low 50s on Sunday. By Sunday afternoon some light to moderate precipitation should start in the mountains, with winds picking up, especially along the ridgetops. A Winter Storm Watch has been posted for the mountains starting Monday morning and going into Christmas morning, with a few inches likely at Lake level, and a foot or more possible in the upper elevations.

As for the valleys, rain showers with gusty winds are likely Monday. As the cold front moves through the snow levels will drop to the valley floors, giving us a chance of a white Christmas, although the airmass should dry up with the passage of the front and accumulations should be limited in the lower valleys.