Scientists meet in South Lake Tahoe for weather conference

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Updated: 1/09/2014 7:24 pm
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KRNV & -- Weather plays a big role in all of our lives. This week in South Lake Tahoe, meteorologists and scientists from across the country are sharing some of the newest technology ranging from weather modification to extended forecasts. 

"We rely on weather to completely sustain our economy," said Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Chief of External Affairs Julie Regan.

Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Executive Director Carol Chaplin said meteorologists are important partners in tourism.

"They can communicate a lot of things that we need to let people know so that they have the ultimate experience here," Chaplin said.

So the Operation Sierra Storm weather conference is a perfect fit for South Lake Tahoe, and for Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Duane Waliser to introduce a potential new forecasting pattern: the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a slowly evolving storm that moves from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

"It provides some sort of predictability characteristics for the tropics for sure and in some cases mid-latitudes including California," he said.

Waliser said scientists have been looking at the MJO since the 90's, but now is the first time they have had enough data to make it a useful model.

"Right now you know you have weather forecasts out five days, maybe seven days, and then we rely on La Niña and El Niño to give us some seasonal information," Waliser said. "This provides some information in between those two extremes."

Chaplin said that could do wonders for ski resorts during dry winters.

"As far as Heavenly goes in their snow making capabilities, whether or not it's a good or a bad idea to use those resources now or to hold off," she said.

Regan said the longer the drought lasts, the more important having that information is.

"Understanding the drivers of weather, the science behind it, and how we can adapt as the weather changes over time is very, very important," she said. 
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