Total snowfall through Monday morning in the PNW and BC. Highest amounts (4-10) will likely fall in the northern zones, with moderate amounts further south. | Image: WXBell

[Forecast courtesy of Powderchasers]


The pattern is finally going to bring several systems into the Pacific Northwest. This will bring light snow initially this weekend becoming heavier midweek and next weekend. Some spots in the Pacific Northwest including western BC will nab 3-5 feet of snowfall at the summits in the next 7 days. If you live on the east coast, North Carolina and Tennessee are going to nab 10-20 inches in the mountains! Leftovers from the PNW head to the northern Rockies mid next week favoring northern Montana, Central, and northern Idaho, Utah, and perhaps Colorado.

Heavy snow will be falling over the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee late Saturday through Sunday. There appear to be 4 resorts currently open. Sugar Mountain has 1300 vertical feet and is reporting a 59-inch summit base depth this morning (4 inches in the past few days). Appalachian Ski Mountain has a whopping 365 vertical feet with 25% of their advanced terrain open. Bring your fat skis as you might not be moving very fast by the time 10-20 inches of east coast pow has fallen through Sunday.

Total snowfall through Sunday afternoon in the mountains on North Carolina! | Image: WXBell

Short Term Forecast:

In the Pacific Northwest, the pattern will remain active. There are 3 main systems that begin to impact this region late this weekend, midweek, and again late next week. Each system will be wetter and deeper. Very cold air will keep most moisture in the form of snow midweek with the exception of a brief warm-up Thursday afternoon (4000-foot snow levels), followed by cooling again next weekend. Snow levels will be as low as 1,000 feet by late next week. Light snow is possible Saturday that turns moderate by Sunday morning. Moderate snow will favor the northern Cascades (Baker) and coastal BC, with snow levels near the bases (4,000 feet). Mixed rain/snow may be falling at the lower elevations with 4-6 inches of snowfall at the summits by late Sunday.

The central Cascades (Snoqualmie, Stevens) and southern Cascades (White Pass, Crystal) will see lower amounts. Oregon will grab some light snow on Sunday. Snow will continue Sunday night landing another 2-5 inches of snow to many resorts in the Cascade range. This may also favor the northern Cascades, however, some models push similar amounts into the southern zones near Crystal. Total snowfall by Monday morning will range in the 4-10 inch range.

Extended Forecast:

The next in a series of frontal systems makes landfall by mid next week. This system will be stronger than the weekend system. This will likely put down 12-18 inches of snowfall to many areas of the Pacific Northwest and BC including the bases. Interior BC including Revelstoke will see moderate amounts. That system drags over the northern Rockies favoring areas of northern Idaho (Schweitzer) and Montana (Whitefish) before dropping south over the Tetons and Wasatch by Wednesday mid-morning.

Snow will begin to impact Colorado Wednesday night with NW flow (Good for many areas of the northern and central mountains). Moisture will be weakening somewhat as it drags east. Its a bit early to predict amounts. The models point to the highest amounts (5-10 inches) for northern Montana, Tetons and perhaps the Wasatch on Wednesday/Thursday. Colorado is a wildcard for Thursday.

Total 7 day snowfall for the west (40 inch plus totals for many ski areas of the PNW with a maximum of 104 inches for summits of the Cascade range (Outside Ski areas). | Image: WXBell

The long range ensembles continue to pump moisture into the northwest with additional systems late next week into the following week (December 14-18). The trend may take some of this moisture further south in the long range (*Sierra wildcard). The Rockies will most likely benefit from these systems as moisture heads south from the PNW.

Below: December 15th (Next weekend)- Strong Trough approaching the PNW 

If everything pans out this week, we can report decent conditions for nearly all areas of the west and east. Its been a long time since New England, the Sierra, Rockies, PNW, and even the San Juans have had decent snow prior to XMAS. It seems that the San Juans benefited early, followed by central Montana, Tetons, and Colorado. Finally, the Sierra and Wasatch caught up recently. New England has been consistent.

Now the Pacific Northwest is going to get deep allowing many resorts to open next week (Crystal is currently open up top). Whistler Blackcomb has very limited terrain open but will be popping ropes mid to late next week.

Hey, if you live in North Carolina, you too can point it straight downhill this weekend!

–Powderchaser Steve

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