Report From Powderchasers
The west has featured decent high elevation snow, especially for the northern mountains of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. Many of these areas are sitting near normal for snowpack at upper elevations and significantly below at the bases. For example, Jackson Hole has good conditions from the summit to just below mid mountain and variable in the last 500 feet. Jackson benefited from 15 inches last week that allowed them to open up some natural lower terrain. Meanwhile on the other side of Teton Pass, Grand Targhee’s base area sits over 1,000 feet higher has full coverage top to bottom. In the Sierra, rain at lower elevations has kept skiers up high with the best conditions being reported at the summits especially Mount Rose, Kirkwood, Mammoth and Squaw (Higher elevations). In looking at annual snowfall for Squaw, they are sitting at just 80 inches YTD in comparison to 250 on this date during last years epic season. Compare that to Jay Peak in Vermont who has logged 185 inches this season. The east is kicking the west in many areas this year.
There is some good news coming to the west in the next 7-10 days, especially the Pacific Northwest and Sierra who will see 2 decent storms through early next week!
Moderate amounts are likely for other areas in the west including the Rockies and even the 4 corners in the 7-10 day forecast. Idaho will see heavier snowfall especially Thursday/Friday and Sunday/Monday.
Below: 7 day snowfall totals in the west ending late Monday night.
The next 7 days will feature a more typical mid winter pattern of colder temperatures and several periods of moderate to heavy snow. Lake Tahoe will finally see heavy snow at lake level late this week with 2 feet or more in the mountains through Monday. What I really like is much needed low elevation snowfall. There are 2 storms on tap this week and another mid to late next week.
If your chasing powder, the highest amounts this week will be found in the Pacific Northwest, Sierra, and Idaho. Moderate amounts are also going to hit the Tetons and Wasatch Thursday night into Friday. Colorado will attempt to catch up Saturday (Moderate snow) with models pushing some teases into northern Arizona and perhaps New Mexico (Wildcard).
The best news is colder temperatures late this week that will bring snow to nearly all base areas of most ski areas.
Below: Colder air is being driven south late this week and will reach Colorado by late Saturday. Image: WX Bell
Moderate to heavy snow will break out over the Cascades of Washington and Oregon late Wednesday through Thursday. Colder temps should drive the snow levels to below pass levels. Expect a wide area of 6-11 inches for first chair on Thursday. Mount Baker may see higher amounts with SW wind direction that tends to favor the north. Stevens, Snoqualmie, Alpental, Crystal, White Pass, Timberline Meadows and Bachelor wont be far behind with double digits being reported Thursday morning. Snow will continue into Friday albeit lighter intensities. The northern Panhandle near Schweitzer Ski area should also score. All these areas will see good quality snowfall with a cooling trend. Both Thursday and Friday have your best odds of deep snow before another system moves in for the weekend. There may be little to no breaks between systems. The weekend in the Cascades features colder temps and additional high quality snow.
Below: Storm #1 pushes into the Sierra Thursday night- Image: Meteostar
Snow moves over the Sierra and most of south-central Idaho on Thursday/Friday. The Sierra grabs heavy snow late Thursday into Friday. Temps will start out warm Thursday (7500 foot snow levels) and drop rapidly in the evening bringing 4-8 inches to lake level and 7-12 inches to the mountains. The last system over a week ago significantly favored areas from Kirkwood to Mammoth (South) where this system will favor northern resorts. Snow continues in the Sierra on Friday (additional accumulations likely) with NW flow and much colder temps. Quality will be the best they have seen all season. Snow showers continue into Saturday morning as a break between storm systems is likely (Bluebird pow day). Total snowfall through Saturday should range from 8-14 inches (Storm #1).
The Tetons are a wildcard with some models showing moisture edging further south or east. I’m confident in 4-7 inches and slightly less confident for 6-12. Most snow in the Tetons will fall early Friday. Utah grabs snow during the day on Friday with the cold front. NW flow Friday should bring a solid 4-9 inches to the Wasatch range Friday (models are trending down somewhat). Sun Valley and areas north into the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho are likely to score higher amounts by Friday morning (3-7 south and 5-10 north).
Leftovers hit Colorado on Saturday and Sunday. SW wind direction should land some moderate snow for the 4 corners late Friday-early Saturday before pushing into central and northern Colorado early by early Saturday with a wind shift to the N, NW. This will bring moderate snow to most of the I-70 corridor during the day Saturday (Last chairs) and early Sunday. Currently I am forecasting 3-7 inches for these areas by late Saturday night. Models will provide better accuracy as we get closer. Both the GFS and European models are still in disagreement.
STORM #2- late Sunday/Monday- Image: Meteostar
Confidence is increasing for another round of heavy snowfall for the entire Cascade range on Saturday and Sunday. The bulk of moisture may land a bit further south into the Cascades (Oregon) before it pushes into California on Sunday. Heavy snow is likely with cold temps in the Sierra Sunday late AM through Monday. This may amount to 12-18 inches of additional snowfall for many ski areas in the Pacific Northwest and Sierra. The current storm track is taking a decent amount of snow into southern and central Idaho late this weekend and early next week before sliding into the Tetons, Wasatch and most of Colorado Monday/Tuesday. Confidence and timing can certainly change being nearly 5-7 days out. The Euro models at press time are decreasing somewhat while the GFS is increasing.
Below: Total 7 day snowfall in the Sierra range through next Monday (2-3 feet is likely). Image: Wx Bell.
Lets hope the models all hold up with the current trends. Looking further out at long term ensembles we may see a brief return of high pressure for the west towards the middle to end of next week.