After spending the past few weeks staring at the skies and searching for storm clouds over the Sierras, the locals up in Tahoe have finally sought out an expert opinion on why there's no snow around the lake this season. In an interview with UnofficialNetworks, Zach Tolby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, explains this year's crappy La Niña in terms Joe and Judy Ski Bunny can understand:
Unofficial Networks: Can you tell me what is going on with this weather? The people need to know! I thought this was supposed to be another massive La Niña year.
Tolby: Last year was a strong La Niña with the stationary high pressure further south and west of the coast allowing the jet stream and associated storm track to drop out of the Gulf of Alaska and bring copious amounts of precipitation to the Sierra. This season the La Niña signal is weaker with a high pressure ridge over the west coast allowing very little precipitation to make it to the Sierra. It is important to understand that La Niña can either be wet or dry and rarely brings average precipitation to the Sierra. There are other oscillations that couple with La Niña and have an impact on whether we end up with above or below average precipitation.
OK, so La Niña has been a bummer so far this year, but what about the rest of the season? Tolby goes on (emphasis ours):
That’s the million dollar question. It is very unlikely to stay this dry for the rest of the winter, but how wet it will get is extremely difficult to predict. La Niña is forecast to weaken and become more neutral into spring. Once we get the ridge of high pressure to break down or shift, we should expect more typical winter storms for the rest of the winter... We very well could have a Miracle March, right now I am hoping for a Fabulous February. However, we are still in a moderate La Niña and both of those years were ENSO neutral.
So there you go, Tahoe diehards: keep those fingers crossed for a pre-President's day miracle. And read on if you're wondering what the heck "ENSO neutral" means and need a professional opinion on whether or not these patterns are getting weirder, or if that's all just pre-apocalypse superstition.