Pic of Powder Bowl shortly after Chair 6 opened at Crystal Sunday. I left Seattle at 4:45 AM and caught 1st chair at the base.

[Forecast courtesy of Powderchasers]


Moderate to heavy snow fell over the Cascades of WA and OR during the past 24 hours. Light to occasional snow will continue in the southern and central Cascades (WA and OR) through Monday morning. Teasing amounts of light snow may freshen the Rockies through Monday before increasing into Xmas Day. If your chasing double digits head to the Sierra for XMAS Day.

Short Term Forecast:

Snow showers, heavy at times are continued in the Cascades on Sunday evening. Short Resolution Models (HRR) show most of the action tapering off by midnight. It’s possible that Stevens Pass and Crystal report another 2-5 inches this morning (*overnight snow). Timberline and Mt Hood Meadows, including White Pass, may see higher amounts (4-8). Sunday was really good at Crystal with 9-10 inches at upper elevations and 4-8 at the bases. The telemetry was reading slightly less on Saturday morning. Mt Baker had higher amounts 9-14 however, 3-4 inches was from late Friday. Stevens Pass started with 2- 3 inches and caught up by end of Sunday with heavy snow showers all afternoon (6-9). Monday morning will offer partial refills, especially in Oregon or the southern Cascades of Washington.

Snowfall for Colorado through Thursday per the GFS. The Euro shows less snow up north. Amounts are very bullish on both models for the San Juan range.

In Colorado snow will be falling late Sunday through Monday focussing on areas on the western side of the State. Steamboat, Aspen Snowmass, Sunlight, Crested Butte and perhaps mountains south to Silverton (*wildcard) will see 3-7 inches by late Monday. It’s not worth a long-term chase, but if you’re in Colorado these areas are favored. It’s also possible that northern Summit County extending into Grand County (Winter Park) grab some of those freshies albeit light. Southerly winds initially switch to the west which might add some nice surprises at Crested Butte or Silverton.

Will Santa get Faceshots?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolf, and the others including Santa will be knee deep along the Crest of the Sierra Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The Sierra will initially see warm and windy temps on Monday with initial snow levels beginning at 7,000 feet (Above the bases). Light snow Monday afternoon (As the lifts close) will turn heavier overnight. Snow levels will quickly crash to Lake Level by midnight. Expect 5-10 inches at most resorts (Overnight snow) with 7-15 inches along the Crest (Squaw, Kirkwood, Sugarbowl). Mammoth Mountain will see similar amounts approaching 12-15 at the summit.

The Good: Overnight snow. Somewhat dense, not blower, but light enough to cover up the bumps below.

The Bad: Some of you might be blowing off XMAS and heading out the door early. – Let’s hope at least 3-5 inches comes in wet and heavy to smooth out the underside of the new snow. Less snow will be falling at the lowest elevations. There is not much downside to this storm other than being a quick hit.

The California Storm heads east and blasts the Ruby Mountains of Nevada before taking a southerly route over Arizona.

Moisture will stream north of the low-pressure system aimed at southern Colorado. The models are giving me high confidence for Wolf Creek, Purgatory and Silverton. Winds initially are SW then shift several times before going NW. This makes this forecast more complex. There are even some SE winds noted that are not favorable for any of the ski areas. The GFS models push a decent amount of moisture north through central Colorado (Monarch) and the Gunnison Valley (Crested Butte) on Wednesday. With the NW wind shift, it’s likely that snow will be falling along I-70 into many areas of Summit County on Wednesday afternoon. I will include Aspen and the Vail on this post (*strong wildcards with NW winds). Telluride is likely to nab decent snowfall with the NW wind shift, and even with SW winds, the bulk of moisture is just at its doorstep (South and east).

What’s the take home?

I believe many of the mountain locations will see snow in Colorado with the highest amounts in the San Juans. Plan to ride AM at these resorts Wednesday. Wednesday PM and even Thursday AM will have higher odds of snowfall for the I-70 or Front range corridor. The Euro models show less snow up north and good wrap around snow extending into the plains east of Denver. Amounts in the San Juan mountains are likely to exceed 15 inches in some locations by late Wednesday. Amounts for other areas of the State will be adjusted on the next post as models get in synch.

Other notable locations this week are the Tetons and Wasatch. Light snow will be falling in the next 24 hours with an uptick of moisture Monday morning. The Tetons should score 5-8 inches by close of lifts Monday. The Wasatch will see 2-5 inches at most resorts with 3-7 in the Cottonwoods. Additional snow is likely from the disorganized remains of the 4 corners storm that will stream moisture into the Wasatch Tuesday and Wednesday (Several 2-4 inch events may add up nicely by mid to late week). The Tetons will also see light snow through the period. The sum total of snowfall in some of these areas is likely to exceed 9-14 inches through Friday with no single double-digit event in 12-24 hours. Montana and the central Panhandle of Idaho see light to moderate snow in the next 24 hours.

Extended Forecast:

A cold and unsettled pattern returns to the Pacific Northwest Wednesday/Thursday. Moderate or low-end heavy amounts are possible for the Cascades (High quality). Late Wednesday or early Thursday may deliver a double-digit event. That storm weakens as it drags over much of Idaho, and takes a possible path through most of Utah and the 4 corners late this week. It’s possible New Mexico scores some decent amounts late week.

Period beginning December 31- Possible low-pressure returns to the west?

High pressure may exist over much of the west next weekend. Long-ensembles are hinting at a chance of another weak trough beginning in the Pacific Northwest and extending into the Rockies.


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