A very stormy picture of the western USA + Canada  for 1-7-19 | Image: NOAA
Whistler Village Thursday morning. Photo: Steve Andrews via Powderchasers

[Forecast courtesy of Powderchasers]


Heavy snow is continuing to fall at mid and upper elevations of BC today under slightly cooling temps. Rain is changing to snow in the Cascades. Cooler conditions and moderate snow is falling in interior BC. Heavy snow will impact the Sierra by noon Saturday with leftovers aimed at the Sawtooths of Idaho, Wasatch, and Tetons. Colorado grabs moderate amounts on the tail end of things.

Whistler Blackcomb grabbed roughly 30-40 inches in the past 48 hours! The upper mountain lifts were closed yesterday with an opportunity again today to get up there (*not getting my hopes up) and a better chance for Saturday (*light snow or some partial clearing for a limited time).

My tagline? Is it possible to see too much show when chasing powder? YES!

It’s the most frustrating thing about a chase. My motto is, ‘you may be lining up for the best run of your life where the carrot never drops.’ On the other side of things, if you don’t line up and something does open– you regret it for days!

Especially when your friends drop the “best day ever” description. This is all part of Powder Anxiety. If you’re reading my post, you know what I mean! I missed 10 inches at Grand Targhee last weekend as well as the 9-12 in the Wasatch (*I was within range).

Short Term Forecast:

The temps in The Cascades of WA were too warm overnight but are cooling Friday morning. Temps stayed above freezing at most ski areas until 4 AM so chasing in the Cascades would not be advised. Perhaps 3-5 inches will fall at Mt Baker today with lighter amounts elsewhere. If your chasing powder consider Baker as an option with slowly opening terrain. Stay out of the backcountry!

Snow will continue, heavy at times over coastal BC including Whistler today (5-10- mid to upper elevations). Light to moderate snow continues in the interior of BC.

The chase route over the weekend includes Whistler for newly opening terrain (*no guarantee). Some warming is noted on the models by mid-morning Saturday. The sun may actually make an appearance on Saturday allowing patrol to dig out. The next incoming storm will happen Saturday night/Sunday. Let’s hope the snow quality from todays cooler temps holds up as skies partially clear by Saturday morning. Saturday could be epic or your worst nightmare with limited terrain (*no answers here). It will be busy! Lots of mystery here on terrain possibilities.

The Sierra is going to grab 12-15 inches along the entire spine of the ridges. This will include resorts from north to south (Pretty even spread of totals by Sunday morning). Snow will begin to fall heavily over north Lake Tahoe by 11 AM Saturday. Winds will increase to 80-100 MPH at the ridgetops in the afternoon (*wind holds). Heavy snow will be falling into Saturday evening and will diminish by midnight. If you’re lucky and can hit areas that had lift closures Saturday you will be in a foot or more of decent quality powder Sunday morning.

A very stormy picture of the western USA + Canada  for 1-7-19 | Image: NOAA

The Cascades see a quick hit of 4-9 inches Saturday night/Sunday with low snow levels. Southerly winds may favor southern resorts near White Pass or Crystal (*some blocking by Rainier is possible at Crystal). Saturday will offer good turning conditions with snow tapering by 10 AM. The northern Oregon Cascades will also do well Saturday night into Sunday. BC turns up the hose again Saturday night/Sunday with cooler temps and a good chance of moderate to heavy snow in the west with light to moderate snow in the interior. Sunday could deliver for coastal BC!

The leftovers are aimed at Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah for Sunday/Monday. My GFS models are not working this morning. I am relying on the EURO and a few other GFS data points to formulate my forecast for Sunday/Monday. That gives me slightly lower confidence in my forecast, however, the EURO is often more accurate (They were the pessimist yesterday). Todays Euro shows light to moderate snow for most of Utah Sunday. Winds start out SW and turn more westerly by mid-Sunday morning. Big Cottonwood sometimes scores higher amounts with this pattern. You could see Brighton report higher amounts Sunday than Alta. Winds shift to the west at some point midday that could allow LCC to catch up. I would expect anywhere from 5-9 inches during the day Sunday. 3-6 inches will fall elsewhere including the northern Wasatch Mountains and Park City.

Additional snow will be falling Sunday night albeit light. Storm # 2 enters Utah Monday in the extended forecast.

Colorado grabs light snow for most of the western mountains beginning Sunday morning. The focus of energy will be in the southern or central mountains. Steamboat may nab 2-5 inches by 2 PM Sunday where areas near the San Juans could see 4-8 by the time the lifts close Sunday. Areas that I currently see as good suspects are Wolf Creek, Silverton, and Purgatory. Telluride, Crested Butte, and Aspen are all wildcards. Best time to ride will be mid to late Sunday. Winds shift westerly at some point (initially SW) that could sneak out some surprises at Crested Butte or Monarch. Westerly winds generally perform well for much of Colorado so even Beaver Creek is an outlying wildcard.

Extended Forecast:

Storm #2 enters the Sierra Sunday night/Monday. Decent moisture will bring moderate to heavy snowfall to the highest summits. Unfortunately temps warm so quality will be decreasing.

That system has a good SW tap of moisture and will spill east over Idaho Sunday night or Monday. The Sawtooths do well with SW flow. Sun Valley may score some moderate pow at upper elevations for Monday. The area north towards Stanley will see higher amounts. The Wasatch and Tetons get back into the action Monday morning with steady snow falling through the day.

Current models show the highest amounts under southerly flow may include Deer Valley, Park City, Snowbasin, Beaver Mountain, Sawtooths of Idaho and the Tetons. Temps will be warming so amounts may stay in check at lower elevations and significantly more at the summits. South flow is not ideal for the Tetons, but winds shift to the west at some point Monday which could ramp up amounts. Total snowfall in some places by late Monday may be in the 5-10 inch range.

Moisture appears to fizzle before moisture reaches Colorado but that might change. Remember, I am working with the pessimist models this morning.

The models show a warming trend by the middle of next week for BC. Moisture returns to BC by Tuesday/Wednesday with rain at lower and mid elevations and decent snowfall for the summits. Interior BC will see light rain or snow midweek followed by colder temps late week. The warming phase takes place Wednesday/Thursday with sharp cooling in the latter period.

Enjoy the powder everyone! If you’re standing in line or have reports from the Northwest this morning please comment on this post. Let’s see what happens at Whistler where it is currently snowing heavily.

— Powderchaser Steve

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