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Another 80 Degree Day & Lake Tahoe Fills Up

Good morning bloggers,

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Spring began this morning with lightning and thunder over Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio while Kansas City continues to be dry.  The day started with a very rare March MCS tracking through The Ohio Valley this morning. This is the type of feature we may see in May or June, definitely not March. Kansas City shattered the record high with the warmest late March day in recorded history in many locations near KC. The high was 87 degrees. I am the KSHB, NBC affiliate in KC’s meteorologist, and I thought the warm front would jump north of KC because of our knowledge of the cycling pattern. I did not forecast 87. I thought that was possible, but wow! What caused this? Global Climate Change? No! The cycling pattern we are in as described by the LRC is the direct cause!

This year’s LRC:

  • The pattern set up between October 1st and November 30th
  • The pattern set up into a cycle length of between 56 and 61 days, centered on 58.5 days
  • A huge long term long-wave ridge was the major feature over the USA centered near the Missouri River Valley. This mean ridge will end up resulting in a summer that will be dominated by a major heat wave and drought. This is not a 100% certainty, but Weather2020 has had this forecast of this happening since December. This is a forecast unheard of in any other forecast method. The LRC provides this huge insight. The chance is 85%. This is an 85% chance of a major heat wave and drought. There is a 15% chance we are wrong. We are forecasting the future. Other future forecasts are incredible if they are accurate 25% of the time. We have raised the bar very high!
  • The northeast will continue to have wet storms, and slightly cooler air this summer

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Lake Tahoe: This is incredible

An incredible thing has been happening in this year’s cycling pattern as described by the LRC. Weather2020 and KSHB-TV Have been sharing this breakthrough technology with you for 15 years now. I found that the weather pattern was cycling regularly in the 1980s. I know it is taking half of my lifetime to get this new technology accepted. It will happen while I am alive. I am convinced, but we have more work to do. This example of Lake Tahoe is yet another showcase of the LRC. This was a weak La Niña winter. The other forecasts for this past winter season, this past rainy season out west was for DRY! Yes, the drought was supposed to continue, but what happened? The exact opposite.

The depressing scene of boat docks sitting high and dry on wide beaches around Lake Tahoe will likely be a fleeting memory this summer. Winter’s unrelenting storms built up a substantial Sierra snowpack and are expected to fill the lake for the first time in 11 years. Many low-lying areas that were exposed when the lake level was declining during the drought will be inundated with water. The docks will be bobbing in crystal blue waters once again.

Straddling the California–Nevada border, Tahoe is the sixth largest lake in the United States, an outdoor playground for people around the world, and the main water source for the Reno-Sparks, Nevada, area. The renowned ecological wonder is fed by 63 tributaries that drain 505 square miles known as the Lake Tahoe Watershed. With a vast surface area of 191 square miles, Tahoe requires an immense amount of water to fill, especially because roughly 100 billion gallons of water evaporates annually.

Lake Tahoe’s natural rim is at 6,223 feet above sea level. The lake can store an additional 6.1 feet in its reservoir and climbs up to 6,229 feet at full capacity, its legal maximum limit. The only outlet, a dam at Tahoe City, regulates the upper 6.1 feet above the low water mark, and this winter water is being released into the Truckee River as billions of gallons flow into the lake.

Tahoe’s water level reached 6,226.84 feet on Wednesday, and the lake needs some 88 billion gallons of water to jump up the 2.26 feet required to be completely full. That’s the equivalent of filling more than 133,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

“We feel really good right now,” said U.S. District Court Water Master Chad Blanchard. “We’re releasing 500 cubic feet of water per second, and trying to manage the elevation. The elevation has been flat for a couple weeks, but we don’t want to get too high because we have two-and-a-quarter feet of room. But we could still have as much as four to five feet of water to come into the lake in next five months. It’s a balancing act. We have to fill, but we don’t want to overfill. And the forecasts we get are just forecasts. They’re not perfect.”

If Tahoe reaches full capacity, as Blanchard expects the lake will do at the end of July, it would see its largest physical rise in recorded history going back to 1900.

Since the start of the rainy season on October 1, the lake level has shot up 4.5 feet. If the lake fills, it will rise a total of 6.5 feet, beating the 1995 record when it jumped up six feet in a single season, which runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

This is a huge milestone for a body of water that flirted with record-low levels amid a five-year drought. At the same time last year, the lake level was a full 4.19 feet lower. This was discouraging in an El Niño year when storms expected to bring record-breaking snow and rain delivered only average precipitation, filling some reservoirs but making only a small dent in California’s drought conditions overall.

This year is telling a different story as storms ceaselessly battered the Sierra Nevada in January and February. The Lake Tahoe Basin received 10 more inches of precipitation than any year in recorded history, going back to 1910. Because Tahoe has a large surface area, the precipitation alone provides a significant rise.

And then there’s the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The range is piled high with the most snow it has seen in decades, and a recent survey on March 1 indicated the snowpack is 185 percent of average. As the weather warms, this snow will melt and pour billions of gallons of water into the rising lake.

And perhaps the most significant milestone is that the drought will be considered over in the Tahoe area.

“In the Truckee basin, drought is defined as water storage in Lake Tahoe,” Blanchard said. “Tahoe is the defining factor. If we’re full at Tahoe, the drought is over. Typically, we can get three year’s worth of water from the reservoir part. Of course, that could vary in some freak extreme.”

This Week’s Pattern:

Storm #1: This system will pass by between now and Tuesday night.

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This forecast map above shows a system coming into California, which is storm #2, and a weak system moving through the ridge in the middle of the nation. There are two bands of precipitation with this first storm, and they both may miss Kansas City. A cold high pressure area at the surface will be tracking across southern Canada and a cold early spring air mass will spread southeast.

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Storm #2 is more fascinating. This next surface forecast shows a surface low over northwest Oklahoma on Friday evening. Can you see the two little circles in the isobars near the Missouri/Arkansas border? I am still trying to figure out if that feature is real or not, but if it is it likely shows where the strongest thunderstorms will form, and this could leave Kansas City high and dry again. This set up will likely look quite different as we get a few days closer, so let’s not over analyze at the moment.

Welcome to spring! Spring began early this morning and the battle between winter and spring will continue for a few more weeks. Spring is quite obviously beginning to win these battles! Have a great day and watch 41 Action News tonight as we look into these next few storm systems.

Gary

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