WINTER IS RETURNING TO THE SIERRA, CASCADES AND ROCKIES. LOOK FOR DOUBLE DIGITS IN MANY AREAS THIS WEEK WITH A COOL DOWN LATE WEEK. 1-2 FEET IS POSSIBLE IN SOME ISOLATED AREAS OF THE CASCADES AND NORTHERN ROCKIES.
4/10/18- The week ahead features a flip from very warm temps mid week to a gradual cooling trend for most of the west. Significant snow will be falling in the northern Cascades this week that works its way south into the Sierra for Thursday morning. The northern Rockies will benefit from Montana into Wyoming Thursday/Friday with a slow cooling trend (Starts out very dense). Cool air will move from Wyoming Thursday mid morning into Utah kicking off decent snows for the higher terrain that eventually sets up over Colorado late Thursday into Friday. Some light or moderate snow will continue Friday night in Colorado.
The chase last weekend scored deep powder at Vail Mountain on Saturday/Sunday. The pow factor on Saturday was dense that greatly improved with colder temps for Sunday morning (We forecasted cream topped with lighter frosting). Conditions at Vail on Sunday were fantastic with no bottom layers to be found. The cold frosting was in your face on many turns. Kudos to Vail Ski Patrol for getting 100% of the mountain open. Breckenridge kept their best terrain closed Saturday/Sunday (Imperial, Whales Tail, Lake Chutes) so I chased there on Monday expecting openings (Bluebird day- Light winds). The TBAR rode great in the early morning. 50-75 folks waited several hours for Imperial Chair to open. While Imperial bowl is not steep it remained closed due to mitigation work outside the rope boundaries. The chair opened around 11:30 AM and patrol delivered bad news at the top. “We don’t expect to open the Whales Tail Gates”. I am not sure it ever opened, nor had any confidence that patrol would pop any ropes accessing steeper terrain. You win and loose chasing powder, and this was certainly a let down. It would have been one of the top runs of the season at Breckenridge for the locals that were waiting.
If your chasing this week there are many options. The Pacific Northwest will cool down on Wednesday with a decent storm ski day favoring Mount Baker (SW wind direction). It’s possible that 2-4 fall Tuesday night and another 4-6 during the day Wednesday. Additional snow will be falling in all of the Washington Cascades into Thursday. I would not be surprised to see more than a foot of freshies in the central or northern Cascades by Thursday morning. Models show an equal split between Wednesday AM or early Thursday snowfall. I would plan on riding PM Wednesday or early Thursday as these systems may over deliver earlier than the models are leading me to believe. Areas south could see 4-9 inches by early Thursday (Crystal). The central and northern Oregon Cascades will also grab 4-9 inches or more through late Thursday. These amounts may need to be adjusted up on a later post. Bottom Line: Ride Wednesday and Thursday with amounts getting deeper.
The Sierra can wake up to a foot or more snow on Thursday morning. This system may favor the northern Sierra versus areas south to Mammoth. The good news is that it is primarily overnight snow Wednesday. Thursday could see 9-12 inches above 7,000 feet and 2-4 inches at the bases.
Below: Cold air will bring snow levels to the Valley Floor in Tahoe by early Thursday morning.
The Rockies score deep powder favoring Wyoming and Montana on Thursday. Warm temps will limit quality initially Thursday (Dense snow). Colder temps Thursday will improve quality mid morning or early PM in most areas of the Rockies. N or NE winds could put some decent amounts over Big Sky, Bridger, and Red Lodge Mountain by Friday morning. The Tetons (Targhee is open) are showing light snow above 9500 feet Wednesday (2-5) followed by heavier snow Thursday morning. Temps will gradual cool Thursday In the Tetons however its possible that rain in the valley does not change over until late in the day. I would expect light or moderate snow totals early Thursday morning ( 4-6 Above 8,000) followed by moderate or heavy amounts by last chair (9-12). Colder temps Thursday night and continued snow showers could deliver even better pow for Friday morning in the Tetons. Southern Montana, and western Wyoming will be looking at double digits late Thursday and Friday. Idaho is in the mix with decent snow possible for Brundage extending into the northern Saw Tooth mountains near Sun Valley.
Below: Double digits for Wyoming, Montana, northern Saw Tooth’s (ID) through Friday morning.
Utah is showing a bit less moisture (System is favoring Wyoming and Montana). The optimist in my forecast is telling me that they will over perform with good NW wind direction, cold air and orographics. The most snow for areas above 7,000 feet will fall on Thursday mid morning (Cold front passage) through Friday morning. Ride PM Thursday or Friday morning. Amounts should be in the double digits in the Cottonwoods by late Thursday or early Friday. My pessimistic side is telling me, that very warm temps early this week followed by a fast cool down mid Thursday may present an interesting bottom layer (Deep freeze). If the cold air takes it’s time getting in Thursday there may be some dense layers that bring the cushion effect for some ideal conditions Friday morning (Wildcard). The Cottonwoods often over deliver in this pattern so its possible that 12-16 inches fall by Friday morning.
Below: Utah snowfall through late Thursday night (double digits likely in the Cottonwoods with 4-9 inches elsewhere above 7500 feet. LLC may be favored over BCC.
Colorado who scored 2-3 feet last weekend will get the leftovers late Thursday and Friday. Overnight snow is a bonus so expect powder for Friday morning that continues through the day. Models are favoring the Aspen range again similar to the storm on Saturday. NW flow should put them in a good scoring position with 9-12 inches. Even Telluride will see decent snow with NW winds pushing moisture into the northern San Juan range (6-9). The front range should see a wide area of 4-8 inches with the highest amounts from Breckenridge to Beaver Creek (The further west you travel may see slightly more snow). NW winds often favor Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat, Highlands (closed). There is some westerly component initially in this storm that will favor Beaver Creek or Crested Butte late Thursday night. Models show another strong push of moisture just north of Fort Collins near the Wyoming border. Ok, its anyones guess who will see the highest amounts but a widespread area of moderate or heavy snow is likely for Friday. Its possible western areas of the State see the highest where spots further east towards Summit see less. Steamboat is also in the mix and could land some surprises by Friday morning. Its not overly moist, nor that cold, so orographics may limit totals somewhat. Light snow sill continue to fall Friday night so you may see a refresh of colder density pow for early chairs Saturday. I will issue a Colorado Update as we get closer.
Below: Colorado through Saturday morning favoring western areas of the State. 6-9 inches is noted on the Summit County/Eagle County line (Small purple dot) that will likely over perform on amounts. The town of Telluride is showing 3 inches where the mountain should see 4-7.
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