POWDER ALERT-CASCADES! CREAM CHEESE ALERT-SIERRA! POWDER WATCH SIERRA FOR THE WEEKEND WITH UTAH AND WYOMING ON WATCH
3/22/18 AM report: In the Cascades snow is currently falling favoring the southern areas of the Washington zones and most of Oregon. The snow levels are going to drop drastically from 4,000 feet 1,000 feet over the next 24 hours. Snow showers will continue into the weekend. Snow may even be falling in the foothills outside metro areas! The highest moisture appears to focus in central or southern Oregon Thursday-Saturday. There is likely a decrease in moisture Thursday evening only to pick up again on Friday. The current track also shows higher moisture today (Thursday) in the northeast Cascades (Consider an outfit called North Cascade Heli Skiing). Areas east of Mount Baker near the Canadian border may see significant snowfall (10-18 inches). I am not confident on ski areas to the west. Crystal should see 7-10 inches by late Friday (Continues light or moderate snowfall) with areas towards Baker seeing slightly less. The central Panhandle along or south of Interstate 90 (Lookout Pass) may get a decent shot of freshies on Friday. Showers will taper somewhat by Saturday with light snow likely. Oregon resorts are likely to see 10-18 inches in the next 48 hours but I can’t specify exactly which ones (Favors central and southern areas). Bachelor may be a good pick? My experience is lower in Oregon than other areas.
In California, significant rain at the bases will occur from today through Friday. Mammoth may be spared at the Main Lodge with a better chance of mixed precipitation near the Canyons lodge. The town of Mammoth sees a mixed bag while the slopes above reap deep cream cheese. There may be 4-5 feet at the summits of many ski areas in the Sierra by Friday morning (Southern areas are favored). There is a break on Friday that may allow avalanche mitigation for summit chairs, however I would not hold my breath that things will open (Lots of digging out of upper lifts). The weekend brings better quality with snow levels dropping late Friday night in the north. Temps may stay warmer near Mammoth until some point on Saturday. Moderate snow is likely favoring the northern Sierra (Kirkwood, Squaw, Heavenly etc.) Friday night into Saturday (4-9). Another shot of snow is likely Saturday night into Sunday (4-9). These amounts were higher yesterday with some signs of the weekend moisture weakening. I am not a fan of chasing wet storms like this especially with summits buttoned up, but consider resorts with higher elevation (June Mountain, Heavenly, Mount Rose, Kirkwood) that may provide a better chance of running upper lifts (Winds are also an issue this week). My gut tells me that many California resorts will be reporting normal or above normal snowpack (YTD) at the summits by the end of this storm. Mid elevations may approach normal but its a gamble.
Below: Colder air is working into the northern Sierra range by midnight Friday. Warmer temps may continue further south until some point Saturday morning.
In the Rockies, rain will be falling at most base and even near mid mountain in the Wasatch and Tetons. Heavy snow will be likely in the alpine (Tetons-6-11) in the next 24 hours (Thursday PM to Friday peak). Cooler air filters into the Wasatch Friday morning brining snow below 7000 feet (Snowing at the base). It’s possible that decent powder will be found in both Big and Little Cottonwood (BCC is favored with SW winds) for Friday. I say decent, compared to what falls today (Don’t expect blower). Expect 7-11 inches up high Thursday PM through Friday AM. Models show the highest moisture in the northern most sections of Utah extending into southern Idaho on Friday morning. It’s possible that Beaver mountain score a surprise especially at the summit.
Colorado has the elevation advantage. Moisture will be falling above 9,000 feet tonight lowering somewhat on Friday. Models show highlights over Aspen extending through the central and north San Juan range. Silverton is going to get decent amounts with Crested Butte a wildcard. Wolf Creek is likely to see moderate snowfall (6-9). Telluride may score another 4-7 inches at the higher elevations (SW flow favors Silverton). Aspen could score 6-12 inches at the summits by late Friday but its really tough to single out 1 mountain range with accuracy (I could totally be overdoing this). Other areas in Colorado that may see moderate snow are western Eagle through Steamboat as the winds shift to the west on Friday. Overall, if you stay west and south you stand higher chances of powder for Friday. Summit and areas east will see lower amounts (2-6). Remember, rain may be falling at the bases of some areas below 8,000 feet on Friday.
Below: Pink areas near the “11” are Aspen extending south towards Crested Butte. 4 inches near the purple in the south is the town of Telluride. Further north the 8 is just north of Steamboat so it’s possible some surprises could happen on Buff Pass.
EXTENDED Colder air and the remaining pieces of energy from California will move into the Rockies by Saturday. I can see good quality (Moderate) snow for the Tetons Saturday extending into the Wasatch Sunday (Lingers into Monday). Colorado gets leftovers early next week that might take a path from Wyoming over the Front Range Monday or Tuesday. Ride Wyoming Saturday, Wasatch Sunday, and Colorado early next week? Its not going to be a major dump, but anything is better than the slop we see in the next few days.
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