The week ahead features 2 moderate waves for the Sierra that will bring 2 periods of surfy snow to elevations above 7,000 feet. Peak surf will be on Saturday and again on Monday. You can chase from north to south, however neither system is a blockbuster.
The PNW stays wet with high elevation snows adding up slowly (Above 4500 feet). The Rockies grab leftovers Sunday morning with the southern mountains possibly favored for Monday (Sierra moisture weakening and moving SE). Nothing looks beyond the moderate range. February 1st might bring a deeper storm?
ANNOUNCEMENT- Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing is now open with plenty of powder and more to come this week. Mention "Powderchasers" when booking and receive a free swag bag from us. Seats are filling up fast. Selkirk is staying on the cooler side of map with snow levels respectable at 4K well below the terrain they ride at. Snow will be falling nearly all week in northern Idaho.
Chases will focus initially in the Sierra Range with storm #1 looking to peak from Saturday afternoon to early evening. Light snow is noted at 4 AM for Palisades (1 inch on the telemetry) and on the benches of Sugar Bowl. Snow density is dense with 8K foot temps at 29 degrees and light rain possible at the bases. National Weather is calling for 1-2 Feet and we are not signing off on it. The models to us have downtrended with likely totals by Saturday night in the 5-10 inch range above 8K and 1-3 inches at 6K. The higher-end numbers are likely on the northern sections of the lake. I feel less confident for Mammoth or areas in the southern Tahoe Basin. Bottom Line: Smooth Powder at upper elevations Saturday/Sunday, storm skiing Saturday (Wet snow), Winds are manageable so upper peaks might open and be your best bet. Ski above 8K so pick resorts with good elevation to avoid mixed precip.
Below: Total snowfall above 8K for the Sierra is favoring northern Regions of the lake (5-10). I think the highest shades of colors are outside the realm for most ski areas (Perhaps Donner Summit gets a win).
Storm #2 moves into the Sierra early Monday morning This system has similar snow totals but is tracking a bit further south. Higher odds exist for a deeper storm with snow levels rising another 500 feet from storm #1. Some decent totals could be reported at upper elevations by late Monday (6-10) with 1-3 inches at lower elevations below 7K. Mammoth and Kirkwood might be in a better position, but it's too early to call.
Below: Storm #2 seems slightly stronger and might favor areas south of the lake, including Mammoth. All areas will see additional snowfall with snow levels in the 6500-foot range. Expect moderate surf snow with this storm. Winds also appear moderate.
Rockies- Idaho- PNW
For the remainder of the west, we are desperately looking for a deep 24-hour total. It simply does not exist. Very warm temps moved into the PNW (32-45 degrees at many ski areas in the western Cascades). Stevens Pass has managed to stay in the teens with cold air from the interior. The next 5 days will bring a very unsettled showery pattern with splitting lows kicking off weak disturbances with snow levels in the 4,000 to 4500 range. While cooling is noted off the balmy highs on Saturday (Baker at 45 degrees currently) aim to ride at upper elevations. Crystal Summit might offer some fun surf all week with no single deep dump. The sum totals could be respectable above 4500 feet!
The weak storms from the PNW will migrate over the northern Rockies Saturday night into Sunday morning with light to moderate dense snow noted for western Idaho (3-5), the Tetons (2-4), and the Wasatch Range (3-6). Light snow showers will eventually add up to the moderate ranges by midweek for northern Idaho (Selkirk Powder) and western Idaho (Brundage).
The storms from California will favor the southern mountains of Utah, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado for the Sunday to Monday timeframe (Moderate snow totals possible). Northern areas including the gut of the I-70 corridor grab scraps. Wolf Creek or AZ Snow Bowl might offer some light to moderate surf.
Below: 24-hour snowfall totals from Monday, January 22 to Thursday, January 25. You can see Sierra Storm #2 highlighting the map with generally light to moderate totals teasing the PNW and BC (Northern Cascades and Idaho favored) through the period with scraps hitting the Rockies. This pattern continues through next week with a bit of colder air by next Friday moving into the Rockies.
The unsettled showery pattern continues for the PNW resorts during most of next week. Snow levels hover near 4000-4500 feet. Sum totals might be decent at a few ski area summits as the week progresses with little or no new snow at the bases. Some of this energy will continue to tease Idaho and northern Wyoming (Tetons might see additional weak waves) early to mid-next week.
On Friday, January 26 there is a hint of a weak cold front that might enhance snow totals a bit for the Panhandle of Idaho, Tetons, Wasatch, and perhaps North/Central Colorado. We shall wait and see
Below Colder air is noted for the Tetons, Wasatch, and Colorado by the end of the week (January 25- 26) which might offer some hope of a moderate system with a bit higher quality.
Below: Final wave of low pressure sneaking down from the PNW with slightly colder temps for the latter part of next week (January 24,25). This might offer a bit more hope for the northern and central Rockies for a moderate higher-quality storm. High pressure will follow this wave for the final week of January.
High pressure will close out the month of January (26-31) with the ensembles hinting at a decent storm possibly entering the west near the first few days of February.
Below: Storm systems might re-enter the Pacific around February 1st. Lets hope!
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Enjoy the powder, everyone! Remember, your deepest resort is not always the best chase. See you in the first chair somewhere on Monday.
Enjoy the powder, everyone!
Powderchaser Steve @powderchasersteve on Instagram