An "Inside Slider": It's Not Your Normal Winter Storm

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RENO, NV - From most angles it was the kind of storm we expect this time of year.

From their perch on the hill above the valley floor the meteorologists at the National Weather Service watched it's progress on their monitors and instruments.

While in the valley below, the rest of us were dealing with the season's first significant snow and it's consequences.

To tell the difference you had to know what those experts at the weather service were seeing on their monitors or take a drive up the Mount Rose highway, if the sight of a spinout or two didn't discourage you.

You'd expect conditions to worsen, the snow to deepen as you climbed. It didn't. In fact, up on the summit it was pretty much like it was below.

And we're told it wasn't much different down at the lake. In fact Incline schools were the only ones in Washoe County, not closed early today.

This was not your typical west-to-east Pacific winter storm.

It was something else, something known as an Inside Slider.

"It's a baseball term that we've adapted to weather." says Jon Mittelstadt, the Meteorologist in Charge at the Reno offices of the National Weather Service.

"It's coming down from the north with high pressure over the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes these low pressure systems drop down along the coast, but this one is dropping along the east slopes of the Sierra."

And since it's coming straight down from the north instead of over the Pacific, it's drier and colder.

That's why we're getting just about the same amount down here as the mountains are getting.

Mittelstadt says we see this type of pattern once or twice a winter.

Usually as we deal with snow down here complicating our commute, we can take some consolation that the same storm is adding feet to our snow pack, gladdening the hearts of skiers and helping lift us out of the drought.

There's no such upside to this storm or at least very little.
"It's not helping our snowpack a lot," admits Mittelstadt. "We'll take everything we can get, but we still have a long way to go before we get a healthy snowpack."

Right. For the moment, we'll take it.