A more ferocious El Niño can actually translate to benefits for the Truckee-North Tahoe area: more snow. But will that happen in 2015? In reality, we’ll all have to wait until December or so to be sure. In the meantime, let’s talk about the possibilities…
For four years our area hasn’t had its normal amount of snowfall (400” +). Both the founder of OpenSnow.com, Joel Gratz, and local forecaster Bryan Allegretto are cautiously optimistic. They both agree on this: there will be more precipitation in our area. They also both agree that the potential for more snow is there.
As recently as early October, a headline from Weather West’s California Weather Blog said this: “El Niño now among strongest in modern history; unusually warm and unsettled conditions persist in California”. The story went on to describe how the low pressure may bring more precipitation to both Southern California and parts of Northern California. The tech talk: the “system will pick up some additional subtropical moisture … before interacting with an eastward moving trough over the North Pacific.” This story also reaffirmed what perhaps many of us have been hearing: that this year’s El Niño will be as impactful and dramatic as the one in the 1982-83 or 1997-98. Again, what this means to us in terms of snow and conditions won’t be known until later this year.
El Niño alone won’t determine what we’ll see this year. There are other factors that will affect our winter, and the current warm water conditions are but one such factor. Our forecaster and OpenSnow folks say that Tahoe is pretty much right on the border of the “rain-snow line.” They say the potential for substantial snow is there. They also say, which is good news, that there’s “at least a strong chance of an average winter”. That would be a welcome addition, as the less than 300 inches of snow on Donner Pass the last three winters was 75 percent below average.
The website Mail Online refers to NASA’s charting of this “Godzilla” El Niño. NASA is saying “the phenomenon will be the most watched in history.” For sure, more rain. They don’t know if it will translate into a more “snowy footprint”. It’s been claimed this massive weather phenomenon will solve our California’s drought crisis: NASA isn’t sure it will. To follow this evolving story, and what it might mean for our area and winter, we recommend you keep abreast of local weather forecasts, and in addition, check the website for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who state that a “Strong El Niño sets the stage for 2015-2016 winter weather”.