[Forecast courtesy of Powderchasers]
Cold air is going to arrive into the Northern Rockies today through Friday before a warming trend affects all areas this weekend. If your chasing, your best bets remain north of Wyoming where 4-7 inches are likely at the Montana Snowbowl by Friday morning (decent quality). Big Sky scored 6 inches last night (heavier) and will see better quality snowfall Thursday night in the 3-6 inch range. Further east Red Lodge Mountain may score deeper amounts (Wildcard).
While cold air stays in Montana, The Tetons will see heavy moisture late Thursday through Friday morning. Snow levels will fall slightly tonight (7500-8,000) bringing mixed precipitation or rain to the bases and heavy wet snow to the summits. Its possible that Friday morning land 6-11 inches for opening lifts and tram for the Tetons above 9500 feet. While the quality in Montana will be superior, the amount of moisture in the upper Tetons may be deeper. The summit of JHMR could be fun however avalanche delays are likely to decrease quality with warming noted by 10AM. It’s a solid wildcard chase card for summit elevations or Teton Pass.
In Colorado, look for snow in most of the mountain ranges after midnight Thursday through Friday PM. Amounts are going to be very variable. Winds are westerly, so its likely most locations from the north San Juans through the Front Range all report snowfall by Friday morning. There is some North upslope noted in the models late Friday morning that could enhance snow near the Front Range. I am more bullish for areas from Steamboat extending east to Fort Collins including Rocky Mountain National Park. Colder air will be found in the eastern sections of Colorado than the west. Moisture in the mountains will be limited to 9500 and higher so snow reports Friday morning may exceed your expectations when you get to higher elevations. I suspect mid mountains nab 2-5 inches where upper peaks may see 4-8 inches. Look for Beaver Creek to be in scoring position if the winds stay westerly. Crested Butte may also be in the mix. Someone in Colorado will score 10 inches at upper mountain by later Friday but I honestly don’t know where (Really helpful huh). This is not a long term chase worthy storm. If your local, monitor the web cams Friday morning and see who is getting higher amounts. Much of that luck will depend on the location of the cam. Steamboat has a cam at the summit as well as Vail looking at the Blue Sky Basin cam. Snow quality will be dense but hopefully smooth out the bumps or crud below. Breckenridge and Loveland may offer some high elevation benefits.
A warmer and wetter storm moves into the west this weekend. Significant water is noted on the models for California (2-5 inches of H2O). Very high elevation snow and mid and low elevation rain will be falling in many spots of the Rockies. Slightly colder temps on Sunday should change rain back to snow in many areas. Colorado may benefit late Saturday or Sunday at higher elevations with a slight cooling trend.
Long Term Forecast:
Looking out into next week, I have some better news. The Cascades will flip flop between 7,000 to 4,000 foot snow levels. There are decent events especially in the southern WA Cascades with brief lowering of snow levels Tuesday and Thursday. Its possible that several inches fall during these periods with brief decent quality followed by significant warming. Better news exists late next week when cold air may drop south into The Sierra and push a decent event into many areas of the west. I can see The Wasatch and most of Colorado back in the chase game for next weekend. It’s too far out for more than 20% confidence at this point. I am doing my best to deliver some good news. It’s April! While warmer temps are common at this time of year, the amount of moisture seen with this Atmospheric River event are unusual. in fact, the colder temps in Montana late this week are below the seasonal norm.
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