Winter Will Be On A Tear This Week In The West [Powderchasers]

Winter Will Be On A Tear This Week In The West [Powderchasers]


Winter Will Be On A Tear This Week In The West [Powderchasers]


Forecast radar for 1/11/18 | Image: NOAA | Cover Image: WXBell

[Forecast courtesy of Powderchasers]


Summary January 8, 2018 AM Report

If your chasing powder this week, there are many options but dodging high snow levels will be the challenge.

The southern Sierra, Wasatch, Tetons, South-central Colorado, Panhandle of Idaho, Pacific Northwest, and southern BC all have lots of opportunity to score deep pow.

Quick Trip Report:

My chase Sunday was a 3AM wake up call from Boulder. 3AM also gave me options to chase to Aspen (Highlands reported 8 inches). Steamboat through the San Juans were on my short term radar Sunday with less moisture east as I mentioned in previous posts. Crested Butte took the award at 11 inches. What caught me by surprise was 9 inches at Vail and just 5 inches at Steamboat. That decision was pretty easy, catching another hour of sleep and departing for Vail at 4:30 AM. My friend Luke was already at Steamboat. I was the first person at the base lifts (Vista Bahn) but ended up on 3rd box (Thanks for the mess up on the operators loading the right line before the left). My runs included a top to bottom on Riva Ridge, coated by a very fresh 7-9 inches, followed by the opening of Chair 10. Conditions on these runs were very good! Blue Ox still has some shrubs sticking out (Rideable) but overall surprised how good the coverage was especially on snowmaking terrain. Chair 11 (Northway) looked good where most folks dropped into on first runs. The Back bowls need more snow. The report from Luke at Steamboat was “Good coverage on main runs and a a bit sketchy in the trees (upper trees are rideable). “Nice to have a fresh coat of 6-7 inches” The Boat has a decent amount of terrain currently open and more is on the way this week.

Vail Village yesterday | Photo: Powderchasers

The week ahead will be summarized in a few brief paragraphs with so many chase options.

Sierra: Rain at lower elevations and heavy mountain snow above 8,000 feet today through Tuesday. Stick to higher resort elevations like Mount Rose or consider southern lake areas like Kirkwood for the deepest. Avalanche danger will be very high with rain likely at the base unit the tail end of the storm Tuesday. Southern Sierra will see much higher totals than the north. Mammoth would be my pick with 20-30 inches of wet snow likely at the summit (Don’t expect it to be open until Wednesday). THE GOOD: Lots of upper mountain snow THE BAD: Rain at lower elevations with much less snow in the northern mountains (5-12). Closures likely due to high Avalanche danger.

Cascades/Panhandle: The week ahead features teasing decent quality snowfall through Wednesday (Panhandle could be reporting 5-10 inches Wed morning). Warm air arrives Thursday with heavy moisture and wind in the Cascades. Snow levels will climb to around the base areas (4,000) with significant snow (1-2 feet) through Friday. Colder air Friday will improve quality as snow tapers. THE GOOD: Lots of moisture- decent tease Tuesday for west Cascades with cold air (3-7 inches) with higher amounts Wednesday for the Panhandle and southern BC. Friday could be epic in the western Cascades if they get 6-8 inches of blower on top of the slop that falls Thursday. THE BAD: Flip flopping snow levels, strong winds Thursday.

Rockies- Colorado: Moisture from the Sierra splits and brings a decent swath of energy to the 4 corners late Tuesday night into Wednesday. Light or moderate snow is possible for Flagstaff and Taos. Heavy snow is likely in the San Juan Mountains favoring Purgatory through Wolf Creek (9-12 inches- summits). Telluride will also see appreciable snowfall with wind direction not optimal but moisture tap may allow them to catch up (Wildcard). Winds shift from SW to West early morning ramping up snowfall for Crested Butte through to Aspen and Monarch (7-9). Wind shifts to the NW late Wednesday morning through Thursday bringing 3-6 inches or more to the northern mountains by late Wednesday/early Thursday. Its possible heavier orographic kick in Wednesday night with cold air and NW flow (Good for Vail, Breckenridge, Steamboat). Additional light snow will fall Wednesday night in these areas. Late Wednesday and early Thursday will offer the best snow in the northern mountains.

THE GOOD: Decent dump in the San Juan range that really needs snow.

THE BAD: Warm temps may limit snow totals (poor ratios) regardless of model data. Rain may mix at the bases of even ski resorts in Colorado initially in the south. Confidence is good for decent snow in the San Juan and central ranges but still waffling for the north. Orographic snows can happen with NW flow and colder temps Wednesday late AM or PM. Confidence is moderate for higher totals from Steamboat through Aspen and perhaps Vail under NW flow late Wednesday.


A northern branch of the split flow coming from the Pacific Northwest edges from the Panhandle to central Idaho Tuesday, Southern Montana (Big Sky and Red Lodge). Moderate snow is likely in Montana with perhaps heavier amounts in central Idaho near Brundage.

The Tetons are under moderate moisture Tuesday increasing Tuesday night. Cold air kicks in Wednesday morning for these areas. Heavy snow is likely favoring the Tetons through Wednesday morning (12-18 at the summits with much less at the base). Its a challenge with base temps in Teton Village Tuesday in the upper 30’s or low 40’s with a sharp drop Wednesday morning. Expect wet snow through the period with drier densities late (right side up). Caveat: Most snow will be falling with the warmer air so amounts that are good quality may come late in the storm cycle Wednesday morning.

Utah scores some needed base building snow. The Wasatch range should kick in Tuesday/Wednesday with 9-14 inches likely in the Cottonwoods, 3-7 for Park City and 5-10 inches in the northern mountains near Snowbasin. Models show higher amounts possible near the Idaho border at Beaver Mountain. Precipitation in Utah will be falling as rain Tuesday below 7500 feet with snow falling to the bases by Wednesday morning.

THE GOOD: Decent moisture feed and cold air late in the storm period.

THE BAD: Initial warm temps will limit pre frontal snowfall with rain or mixed precipitation at the bases early in the storm period.

This is a map of total snowfall for the intermountain west through Wednesday night | Image: WXBell

An optimistic forecast for Utah | Image: WXBell

Extended Forecast:

The late week moisture from the Pacific Northwest aims itself at the Panhandle of Idaho Friday extending over the northern Rockies into the weekend. Its likely, that many spots from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming pick up another round of moderate snow late this week. The following week should feature some high pressure with signals of a very strong system approaching the Pacific Northwest around January 17-18. Its way too early to predict the track, however its likely the Rockies and perhaps the Sierra benefit as it moves inland. This has consistently been showing up in the models for the past week so my confidence is relatively high.

Map depicting deep trough entering the west beginning January 17-18. Image timestamp is January 20th later in the period | Image: WXBell

– Powderchaser Steve

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