The National Weather Service will be using a different kind of warning this year and it’s called a Snow Squall Warning. It will be used nationwide mainly for lake effect snow events in the Great Lakes region but our local office may issue them as well if conditions deteriorate pretty quickly and for a short period of time. They will not be issued for prolonged events but may be issued for sudden, quick, bands of snow that could make conditions dangerous with low visibility and slick roads. You’ll be able to find the alerts on your phone when they are issued. Like severe thunderstorm warnings they will likely last for about thirty minutes to an hour.

A squall is a very localized event and during the summertime is associated with thunderstorms that brings a quick burst of rain, strong winds, or large hail. During the winter time a squall can bring a quick burst of snow or rain, along with wind. On radar it looks like a line that is oftentimes isolated and away from everything else. For us we oftentimes get squalls with lake effect snow or inside sliders.

Inside sliders come in from the north and bypass the Sierra, making Reno more vulnerable to snow bands than the Sierra to the west. Depending on how much moisture we have to work with, inside sliders can produce lots of snow in a couple hours, perhaps even seven or eight inches. They are also hard to predict and are usually not picked up by the forecast models, because they form on such a small scale. The bands usually don’t start setting up until they reach Pyramid Lake, because before that there’s no mountains to produce uplift or to get the air to rise.

Lake effect snow occurs when the lake water is warmer than the cold air moving over top of it. Warm, moist air is transported into the lowest levels of the atmosphere from the lake waters, and after that a cloud forms. Lake effect snow is very localized and can produce feet of snow for a very specific location, with sunshine elsewhere. Lake effect snow is also hard to predict and can cause things to change pretty quickly.

It’s been a mild November so far and we could really use some snow in the mountains. The drought monitor shows abnormally dry conditions in the Truckee Meadows and western California, but much worse conditions in Oregon. With that being said, fire danger remains high and we need to stay fire aware. Highs the next few days will be in the upper 50’s and low 60’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Have a great weekend.