Warm, soggy storms to continue | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warm, soggy storms to continue

Jeff Munson

Snow turned to rain for much of the South Shore on Tuesday as a winter storm dumped about 5 inches of snow at lake level and about a foot to 18 inches at higher elevations.

Slushy streets and clogged drainages greeted motorists and pedestrians as temperatures hovered around 40 degrees, melting off much of the accumulated snow.

Despite the slush, Heavenly Mountain Resort plans to open today and Kirkwood Mountain resort plans a Thursday opening. Both resorts will have limited runs and have relied heavily on snowmaking equipment to lay their bases for their runs.

Unfortunately for the ski areas, a carbon copy of this week’s storm is expected on Thursday and may be an even warmer one, bringing rain rather than snow to South Lake Tahoe. Snow levels predicted are between 7,000 to 7,500 feet.

The warm-weather storm, described by forecasters as subtropical, could bring about three-quarters of an inch of rain to the basin floor and up to a foot of snow in the mountains.

The storm, however, is not considered a so-called “pineapple express” system, said National Weather Service forecaster Jon Bonk. The weather phenomenon is where storms that are normally generated from the gulf of Alaska are replaced by storms created in the South Pacific.

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“This particular system has gained a lot of moist air north of Hawaii, but I wouldn’t say it was a pineapple connection,” Bonk said. “If it were, we would be seeing system after system.”

Bonk described the Sierra Nevada as being on the warm side of the storm track for November, while the Cascades, in Oregon, are the cold side of weather system, thus getting cold weather and heavy snow.

He called these warm weather storms “isolated,” meaning there hasn’t been a pattern.

However, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week that Northern California is twice as likely this year to undergo a series of pineapple express storms as opposed to El Niño conditions. Highs through Friday will be in the upper 30s at lake level and high 20s in the mountains.