SUMMARY: Light snow is continuing int he San Juan Mountains Saturday morning. Models are showing an additional 3-6 inches are possible from Purgatory to Silverton edging into Aspen (1-4). Next week will be very deep in the Sierra with solid leftovers aimed at the North/Central Rockies. The 4 corners will also grab decent snow late next week.

FORECAST: The departing storm system for Colorado performed somewhat per my original forecast of the most snow falling south of I-70 (Breckenridge and Monarch were highlighted for 5-10 inches). Models flip-flopped several times showing a general spread of 2-5 inches for most of the Front Range due to easterly winds that pushed the highest totals on the wrong side of the Divide. I issued an update Thursday evening stating that confidence for a general deep event for most ski areas was diminishing but to “expect the unexpected and to keep expectations low” when you wake up on Friday watching the webcams. My gut told me that things were going south and east as the short term High-Resolution model got pessimistic. I also mentioned that snow totals would be a long extended event with no single deep 6-hour period (Breck exceeded that).

When the storm finally hit, Breckenridge grabbed a quick 4-6 inches by late evening where most other ski areas only saw 1-3 inches. It continued to snow heavily south of I-70 where Breck nailed a solid powder day for Friday that felt like 8-11 inches underfoot. The webcams for most of the Vail Resorts locations went dark (Offline) Friday morning so if you were not paying attention earlier, you may have missed it. Snow was light and kudos to Breckenridge Ski Patrol for loading the TBAR as early as 9:15. Imperial opened around 10:00 with access to my favorite run “Whales Tail”. North facing slopes rode the best with other areas still entrenched with a crust bump layer.

One surprise to me was Snowmass! The totals below consist of the 2-3 inches on most snow reports Friday morning with additional snow that fell during the day. One exception was Breckenridge who reported 6 inches overnight Thursday.

Here are a few storm totals between Thursday night and Friday.

Breckenridge: 12 inches

Snowmass: 10 inches

Ski Cooper: 10 inches

Monarch: 7 inches

Loveland: 6 inches

Eldora: 6 inches

Winter Park: 2 inches

Snow is continuing to fall this morning in the San Juan mountains. Models show it’s possible that areas around Red Mountain Pass, Purgatory, Silverton, Ouray could score another 2-5 inches at upper elevations. Snow may also continue to fall in New Mexico where Ski Santa Fe will see the highest amounts (3-5).

Don’t miss the extended forecast.

EXTENDED FORECAST: Models have advertised several deep events for the Sierra next week. Snow will begin to fall as early as Monday night in the southern Sierra (Light) and increase somewhat on Tuesday (Southern Sierra favored). Heavier and consistent snowfall is very likely Wednesday-Thursday night with over 5-10 inches of water on the precip models. That may equivalate to over 5-10 feet of snow for elevations above 7,000 feet. Temps are somewhat cool early next week (5-6,000 foot snow level) and warm slightly by Wednesday. Rain/snow may fall at the lake level at times with accumulations likely. The peak event will likely happen Wednesday night/Thursday (Double-digit overnight dump). Temps warm Wednesday night into early Thursday before colder air pushes snow levels to the valley floor. Significant snow will be falling Thursday morning in the Sierra. Winds may also be an issue at some point Thursday (Impacts will be likely at most ski areas for upper elevations). This will either be “ALL TIME” or a cluster of issues that keeps most terrain shut down. Friday will see additional openings.

Below: Significant amounts of precipitation for the Sierra through Thursday night!

Bottom Line: It’s tricky and risky to chase powder in the Sierra where either too much snow falls, or winds shut down terrain. This storm may favor the southern Sierra Tuesday/Wednesday and the northern areas by Thursday. I like the lighter winds through Wednesday night and coolish snow levels. I don’t like the warm-up Wednesday night (Significant bump in avalanche danger). I do like the colder air for Thursday (High quality). If I were chasing, I might consider Mammoth for the higher elevations (Colder- better quality) early next week. By late week, the chase might take me further north but if winds kick in Thursday you can kiss the summits goodbye. Mammoth may not see a summit opening at all beginning on Tuesday until perhaps Friday or Saturday (It’s too early to speculate).

For the Rockies, next week will kick deep POW towards many areas. Its likely that the Sawtooths (Sun Valley), Tetons, Wasatch, and most of western Colorado see good dumps, especially Thursday/Friday. Temps will be on the warm side with SW wind direction. I will get into more details on a later post on who scores best with this pattern.

Powderchaser Steve

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