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Tahoe rain/snow

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Going to be in Tahoe for a week starting tomorow. Was planning to ski Squaw on Wed but given the forecasted snow levels think that Kirkwood or even Heavenly might be better due to elevation. I prefer the terrain at Squaw but despise rain. Any advice?
post #2 of 17
It rather depends where you're staying. But right now I'd suggest that wind will be more of an issue. The snow level will probably be below mid-mountain but then wind hold as the storms blow through will probably close the top of Squaw. But Heavenly as an alternative to Squaw I don't think so and they'll encounter the same problems. At least Kirkwood should get you above the snow line but so what ? The wind will still close the place down and getting there may be near impossible from the Tahoe Basin. It's weather and you've got to just deal with it !

Remember places to go when it's windy are Northstar (mid week ONLY) and Homewood. Both will get rain if that's what's coming. Which it looks like it is
post #3 of 17
Not meaning to hijack, but just having been in the Tahoe "rain", and seeing this crop up again, would anyone care to expound on the Historical rainy winter days in Tahoe and/or West Coast vs., say, Mammoth, and Utah, Colorado?

Is this rain thing a west coast low altitude phenomenon?

Happened to us at Whistler in January a few years ago, but were at Sun Peaks just a few days prior to WB and not 1 drop of rain!
post #4 of 17
It simply is a result of where the storm originated. If it's an Alaskan storm we get snow, a pineapple express we get rain (although sometimes feet of snow). The ones that are coming look to be inbetween. Having said that right now it's snowing at 6200'.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpaul
Not meaning to hijack, but just having been in the Tahoe "rain", and seeing this crop up again, would anyone care to expound on the Historical rainy winter days in Tahoe and/or West Coast vs., say, Mammoth, and Utah, Colorado?

Is this rain thing a west coast low altitude phenomenon?

Happened to us at Whistler in January a few years ago, but were at Sun Peaks just a few days prior to WB and not 1 drop of rain!
OK, here's the deal as best as I can explain it:

- Altitude and Latitude play large roles in Western skiing. Obviously, the further south you go, the higher base elevation you need to stay above the snow line. Draw a line across the Western US from about Tahoe through Colorado. It roughly goes through Tahoe, below Salt Lake and through Denver, so these are areas that serve as a sort of baseline for resort base comparison. For instance, Tahoe resorts have bases in the 6,000' range (K'wood & Mt. Rose higher), the Salt Lake resorts from 7,000' to 8,500' and the Colorado resorts in the 8,000 to 9,000' range (Loveland, Apapahoe higher). Now all other things being equal, Tahoe generally gets more rain than either Salt Lake or Colorado (Salt Lake equalizes w/ Colorado due to its higher latitude). Going further south, Mammoth has an 8,000' base and gets less rain than Tahoe, even though it lower latitude (not that much further south). Jackson Hole does well too, with a 6,000' base but is considerably further north than SLC, as does Sun Valley. Big Sky with a base of 7,000' and far further north than SLC, is an almost sure bet for snow all the time. In SoCal, I don't know how the Big Bear resorts ever manage to stay open with base elevations of 7,000', but a very low latitude. Up north in the Seattle area, Mt. Baker does considerably better than the Summit resorts with 4,000' vs. 3,000' bases, respectively.
- The other factor is local weather patterns. The further you go towards the interior, the drier and colder the over-riding air above gets. If you look at the 700mb atmosperic temperatures across the US, the coldest pocket of air in the winter resides in a swath from Idaho to Montana, down through Wyoming, and the Top halves of Utah and Colorado (another cold pocket resides over Northern Maine too). This colder pocket of air tends to cool warmer pacific storms somewhat as they travel across the interior (Rockies), after crashing into Tahoe. The Rockies also have additional adiabatic cooling and topographical orographic cooling after the storms cross the relative lower/dry lands of the Great Basin. This is epecially pronounced in Utah, where rain is indeed a rare word at places like Alta/Bird, Solitude & Brighton.

So there you have it. I would arrange in following order, rain adverse Western Resorts:

1) Big Sky, MT
2) Grand Targhee
3) Loveland, CO
4) Arapahoe, CO
5) Alta, UT
4) Brighton, UT
5) Snowbird, UT
6) Solitude, UT
7) Breckenridge, CO
8) Kirkwood, CA
9) Mammoth, CA
10) Copper Mt, CO


I would say any of the above list would be pretty safe at any given time to avoid rain.

Powdr
post #6 of 17

Rain Vs. Snow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
OK, here's the deal as best as I can explain it:

- Altitude and Latitude play large roles in Western skiing. Obviously, the further south you go, the higher base elevation you need to stay above the snow line. Draw a line across the Western US from about Tahoe through Colorado. It roughly goes through Tahoe, below Salt Lake and through Denver, so these are areas that serve as a sort of baseline for resort base comparison. For instance, Tahoe resorts have bases in the 6,000' range (K'wood & Mt. Rose higher), the Salt Lake resorts from 7,000' to 8,500' and the Colorado resorts in the 8,000 to 9,000' range (Loveland, Apapahoe higher). Now all other things being equal, Tahoe generally gets more rain than either Salt Lake or Colorado (Salt Lake equalizes w/ Colorado due to its higher latitude). Going further south, Mammoth has an 8,000' base and gets less rain than Tahoe, even though it lower latitude (not that much further south). Jackson Hole does well too, with a 6,000' base but is considerably further north than SLC, as does Sun Valley. Big Sky with a base of 7,000' and far further north than SLC, is an almost sure bet for snow all the time. In SoCal, I don't know how the Big Bear resorts ever manage to stay open with base elevations of 7,000', but a very low latitude. Up north in the Seattle area, Mt. Baker does considerably better than the Summit resorts with 4,000' vs. 3,000' bases, respectively.
- The other factor is local weather patterns. The further you go towards the interior, the drier and colder the over-riding air above gets. If you look at the 700mb atmosperic temperatures across the US, the coldest pocket of air in the winter resides in a swath from Idaho to Montana, down through Wyoming, and the Top halves of Utah and Colorado (another cold pocket resides over Northern Maine too). This colder pocket of air tends to cool warmer pacific storms somewhat as they travel across the interior (Rockies), after crashing into Tahoe. The Rockies also have additional adiabatic cooling and topographical orographic cooling after the storms cross the relative lower/dry lands of the Great Basin. This is epecially pronounced in Utah, where rain is indeed a rare word at places like Alta/Bird, Solitude & Brighton.

So there you have it. I would arrange in following order, rain adverse Western Resorts:

1) Big Sky, MT
2) Grand Targhee
3) Loveland, CO
4) Arapahoe, CO
5) Alta, UT
4) Brighton, UT
5) Snowbird, UT
6) Solitude, UT
7) Breckenridge, CO
8) Kirkwood, CA
9) Mammoth, CA
10) Copper Mt, CO


I would say any of the above list would be pretty safe at any given time to avoid rain.

Powdr
Great input thanks..would you stick with this order on a pre Christmas trip?
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input!
post #8 of 17
hi I'm also traveling to Squaw this weekend from New England.

Let's say that it's raining below 6000 feet (or whatever is forecasted). Is it possible to have a good ski day at Squaw by staying on lifts serving terrain where it is snowing? Or would I be better off skiing someplace else on the north side of Tahoe? Rain doesn't exactly excite me, but I'm going to be there, so I suppose I'll be skiing regardless of the conditions.

When the forecast looks like it does, where do the locals ski?
post #9 of 17

Squaw's lowest base is 6200'

If the snow level is above 5500-6000', then the entire mountain will have snow. The real issue with big storms is wind holds at the top of Headwall, Siberia and Granite Chief. EVen with the wind holds, KT-22 is lower and usually open. If it's not too windy, just make sure you have a hardshell & a goggle wipe...
post #10 of 17
cool thanks for the reply.

looks like they are forecasting rain below 7000 feet for wed and thursday and snow when i will be there. well at least it'll be dumping on the top of the mountain!
post #11 of 17

It Won't Rain. It Can't Rain.

It won't rain at Squaw this weekend. The Snow Gods forbid it. We've sacrificed every virgin in North Tahoe (both of them) and we're supposed to be ok for the rest of the season. And the forecast is snow at the top of KT. Using Google Earth, the coordinates for the top of the KT lift are latitude 39.183267, longitude 120.243066 (yes, I have time on my hands.) Plugging that into the National Weather Service you get http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/index.php?wfo=rev&zone=caz072&fire=caz272&county=c ac061&dgtl=1&lat=39.183267&lon=-120.243066.
There is a discrepancy in the altitude - NWS has it at 7400 feet, Google at 7900, and the official Squaw elevation of 8200 feet. And as of today NWS is saying snow (at 7400 feet.) As for wind, that's a different issue.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sierra
It won't rain at Squaw this weekend. The Snow Gods forbid it. We've sacrificed every virgin in North Tahoe (both of them) and we're supposed to be ok for the rest of the season. And the forecast is snow at the top of KT. Using Google Earth, the coordinates for the top of the KT lift are latitude 39.183267, longitude 120.243066 (yes, I have time on my hands.) Plugging that into the National Weather Service you get http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/index.php?wfo=rev&zone=caz072&fire=caz272&county=c ac061&dgtl=1&lat=39.183267&lon=-120.243066.
There is a discrepancy in the altitude - NWS has it at 7400 feet, Google at 7900, and the official Squaw elevation of 8200 feet. And as of today NWS is saying snow (at 7400 feet.) As for wind, that's a different issue.
Impressive. You DO realize though that NWS issues forecasts based on zones, which probably don't go down to the second level that you are using. Good effort, though.

Powdr
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
Impressive. You DO realize though that NWS issues forecasts based on zones, which probably don't go down to the second level that you are using. Good effort, though.

Powdr
Had no idea! I'll stick with argument #1, the Snow Gods.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sierra
It won't rain at Squaw this weekend. The Snow Gods forbid it. We've sacrificed every virgin in North Tahoe (both of them) and we're supposed to be ok for the rest of the season.
Dang. Why'd ya go and sacrifice the virgins before I arrived?

forecast calls for 90-100 mph gusts on top of ridges. holy smokes!
post #15 of 17

Rain in Tahoe?

Rain in Tahoe? You've got to be kidding. I just booked my first trip to Tahoe in the end of Feb.

How often does it rain in Tahoe in the winter?

When a storm comes in, does it always rain at the lower elevations? Or just the Pineapple Express storms?

Man, I would hate to fly across the country to ski in the rain. Luckily I was able to use frequent flyer miles, so my flight only cost me $10 (9/11 fee).
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCWVA
...How often does it rain in Tahoe in the winter?

When a storm comes in, does it always rain at the lower elevations? Or just the Pineapple Express storms?

...
It rains a few times every winter. It is different that the East Coast, though as the storms generally get colder as they go, so it usually turns to snow on the tail end. Also, you don't get bitter cold afterwards, turning the surfaces to ice like you do on the East.

All storms are rain at lower elevations (It never snows in SF), not just southern systems.

Powdr
post #17 of 17
Powdr, Gracias!

Your discourse is right on the money, and matches my previous rain encounters. I say UT and northern CO pretty much guaranteed for snow year after year.

And Mammoth!
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