Just when you thought the Sierra was dead, most ski areas of Northern California will be crushed with several game changing storm systems by the end of next weekend. The first storm is moving in this evening, and through Monday/Tuesday a foot or more should fall on most resorts in the Tahoe Basin. Areas further south, including Mammoth, will see lighter amounts. There is a break in the action on Tuesday before a much stronger system approaches from the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday night. That system will bring significant snowfall to most of the Sierra that could last through Saturday. The Firehose is will stay open until late this weekend and possibly even longer with a cooling trend.
Significant snow just fell over much of the Pacific Northwest in the past 2 days.
Stevens Pass: 35 inches
Alpental: 26-30 inches
Crystal: 30 inches
Below: Stevens Pass- Sunday. Photo: Powderchaser Steve
10-12 inches recently fell in the Cottonwood Canyons in Utah and it’s snowing currently in Jackson. North of Salt Lake, Snowbasin surprised everyone, including myself, with 13 inches overnight last Thursday. Wolf Creek Colorado and much of southern Colorado resorts starved for snow, nabbed 2-4 feet last week. Most of Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington and Utah have potential to see significant snow in the next 5 days, especially beyond mid week.
3-5 FEET FOR THE SIERRA THIS WEEK!
Below- Friday morning. Image: Weatherbell
Below Image: University of Utah Plumes ensemble showing a wide range of solutions on snow totals for areas around Donner Pass (Interstate 80). The average is the dark blue line at about 60 inches by the end of the week. The wide spread of ensembles members indicates the uncertainty beyond March 1st.
The Sierra will see moderate snow begin as early as Wednesday night. Heavy snow will be falling Thursday morning with the bullseye almost directly over Lake Tahoe. It’s possible the front stalls over the northern Sierra early Thursday before slowly progressing south towards Mammoth Mountain by Friday morning. You may be able to nab double digits on Thursday at Kirkwood, Squaw or any of the northern resorts and chase the same storm to Mammoth for Friday. Snow will lighten somewhat over the northern Sierra Friday morning before increasing by afternoon. Heavy snow will be falling once again over Lake Tahoe late Friday and Saturday. That storm may favor northern resorts as well. Colder temperatures will drop the snow level to Lake Tahoe later Thursday and into the weekend. Most resorts will receive decent low elevation snow especially later Thursday-Saturday. Some rain is possible at lake level Wednesday night or early Thursday.
With the second round of storms several days out, the details still need to be worked out. My confidence is high for significant snowfall for much of the Sierra Range. Amounts could trend higher or lower as we get closer to the weekend forecast.
Below: Thursday morning moisture focused on the northern Sierra range. Image: Meteostar
Below: Friday Morning – Deep moisture dropping into the southern Sierra while the north continues to see moderate snowfall. Image courtesy of Meteostar.
Below: Total snowfall through Friday morning (Includes the current early week storm). 3-4 feet for resorts with even higher totals along the Sierra Crest. Image: WeatherBell
While it will be snowing into Saturday for most of the Sierra, a good portion of moisture this week will be aimed at the Wasatch, southern and central Idaho, Wyoming, and isolated areas of western Montana. It’s likely the Wasatch and Tetons, perhaps even southern Idaho, see decent accumulations this week. Look for deep snow for those areas by Thursday/Friday, in addition to the solid totals some areas have received on Monday.
Looking to the long range, its unlikely that high pressure returns to the Sierra for at least the next 14 days. I have some confidence that some additional systems may impact this region beyond the next 7 days. I have low confidence on strength or timing.
Although the Sierra has been struggling mightily all winter, it looks to end February and begin March with a bang! Lets hope it continues!