[Forecast Courtesy Of Powderchasers.com]
Summary – 3/21/17 8 AM MST
I’m frustrated this morning as snow amounts look deep late this week over the Front Range south of Denver and perhaps some good surprises in the mountains near Denver, Eastern Summit County and north Boulder County. The Wasatch should nail 12 inches through Friday but it’s coming in pieces all above 8,000 feet. The Sierra is a sure bet today with moderate snow falling through the day (3-7) and warmer temperatures. The Weekend storm for the Sierra is splitting but will still bring another 4-9 inches to most resorts by Saturday. The only single double digit dump this week might fall over Rocky Mountain National Park or perhaps if we are lucky Berthoud Pass, Loveland, Eldora, or WP Thursday night into Friday. If your desperate 2-3 feet of blower pow just fell in the Chugach of Alaska according to my contacts at H2O Heli Guides based in Valdez. It’s the dump they have been waiting for!
Short Term Forecast
Snow is falling over the Sierra currently with generally 1-4 inches being reported at most resorts. Temps are warm so you may see rainfall at lower elevations. Another 3-5 inches is likely through this evening with perhaps slightly higher amounts at the upper elevations of Mammoth. I suspect 5-9 inch storm totals are still on track with this event through late tonight.
Moisture slides south into the 4 corners Wednesday/Thursday. Models show generally 4-6 inches for some of the southern mountains of Colorado by Thursday morning with perhaps the best amounts impacting areas west of Wolf Creek towards Silverton or even Purgatory. The Wolf is on the cusp but somehow always manages to catch up.
Decent moisture feeds north into Utah Wednesday/Thursday under southwest flow (high snow levels) that brings rain to lower elevation resorts and wet snow above 9,000 feet in the Cottonwoods. Colder air brings the snow levels down in Utah on Thursday with the best chance of Wet Pow adding up during the day (5-9). Total snowfall above 8,000 feet could exceed a foot at the peaks by early Friday with most of the action over by last chair Thursday. I would plan on hitting upper mountain Thursday by mid morning or early afternoon. Moisture will be plentiful in northern Logan County edging into south/central Wyoming with low elevation rain and high elevation snow. The Tetons are on the northern edge but will pick up 2-5 inches during the week. Heavier snow will fall over the ranges south of Jackson.
The highest action this week will happen as moisture feeds from the southern low over the 4 corners and swoops up over Eastern Colorado Thursday night and Friday. Heavy moisture will be falling over the mountains along the Front Range south of Denver. Moderate or heavy snow may also occur in the foothills just north of Denver (Boulder County, Rocky Mountain National Park). Models are showing 12-18 inches on the higher peaks south of Denver and slightly less to the north. Most resorts along I-70 will see light to moderate snowfall Thursday night into Friday. Moderate or heavy snow is likely further East or north (Berthoud Pass, Winter Park, Loveland, Eldora, A Basin). Expect a wide area of 5-10 inches on the Friday AM snow report (Wet snow). There may be some higher surprises at upper elevations. Snow will continue Friday albeit lighter by afternoon.
Wildcard: The Pacific Northwest will see light snow at upper elevations much of this week. Colder air and a moderate snow will likely increase on Thursday. There is a good chance of decent conditions sneaking up into the central and northern Cascades during the day!
The next storm that we originally had hope for heavy snow for the Sierra is splitting. Each model run has been showing less moisture. Snow picks up in the northern Sierra Friday evening and Saturday morning. It’s a fast mover and may only land 4-8 inches of snowfall. The favored spots for any chases would be northern resorts closer to Interstate 80 at upper elevations (Perhaps Sugar Bowl scores some points).
Leftovers zip over Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado this weekend. Expect light snow in the Rockies at upper elevations and rain at lower elevations. It’s going to freshen up upper slopes this weekend but nothing worth a long chase. Early next week shows a return to light or moderate snow showers for much of the West.
The longer range forecasts may be a bit more optimistic but I am going to wait until my next post to share that.
If you’re addicted to powder and reading this forecast, please consider a donation to Powderchasers! For all donations of $50 or more you earn powder turns with Powderchasers, custom forecasts, and a swag Phunkshun Wear Balaclava! There is a new Balaclava that is in production so please be patient as it’s due to us in the next 2-3 weeks. 10% gets donated to avalanche forecast centers in the West.
Donate Here: Powderchasers Fund