The life of a storm chaser:

The departing storm from late last week delivered over 45 inches to Breckenridge and 2-3 feet for most of the north/central Rockies. I chased to Vail Friday where winds and density were nothing to brag about. I-70 was closed in many areas but never completely shut out access for more than a few hours. Kudos to CDOT for clearing debris and dealing with the traffic. Most of the terrain on the backside remained closed. Utah was a o go\" due to very high winds and Avy danger.  Folks in Utah were inter lodged at Alta for 2 days (No skiing). Several slides covered the road to Little Cottonwood, Hit the Alta Lodge, and buried some cars. Also, the Baby Thunder Chair at Snowbird was hit with a slide. Meanwhile, the best place to be on Friday was Jackson Hole where 15 inches fell at the base and 100% of the mountain opened. Montana was also in good shape with less snow than Wyoming but respectable. The Big Sky Tram never ran due to Avy danger (Still cautious due to a weak layer from several weeks ago). That would have been epic if the Tram opened. 

I chased from Vail to Rock Springs Wyoming (Staging area) Friday night in hope of additional snow for Jackson or Targhee.  With the density of snow in Colorado and winds, I made the right and wrong call.  The Tetons scored 3-6 additional inches Friday-Saturday but split between pre-lift openings and day skiing. I called the chase off and returned to Colorado Saturday to Skate Ski in North Boulder Park. 

Meanwhile, Saturday night in Colorado set up good NW flow orographics that the models rarely pick up on.  My normal wake up is 4:30 AM to start working on forecasts. With my luck, I woke up at 6 AM only to find out that 5-9 inches fell overnight in most of the North/Central mountains of Colorado. In fact, it was a text message from a friend at vail while I was asleep that said \"Dumping at Vail\".  I had completely not seen this coming! It was a frantic moment of leaving Boulder behind the time game. 

I raced out of my house in Boulder at 6:15 AM (That is the amateur hour to leave) expecting to miss out on all 1st tracks.  Breck reported 8 inches, Loveland 6-7, and Beaver Creek 9 inches.  I continued to Vail where Orient and Tea Cup lifts never ran on Saturday.  LUCK:  Moderate traffic on I-70 got me to Vail at 9 AM. I think most Front Rangers chased to Breck due to the higher snow totals or Beaver Creek (9 inches).  No lines were to be found at Vail that got me racing to the summit of Tea Cup Express chair (Genghis). The rope dropped as I got off the chair!  I took 4 runs on the backside including Red Square terrain all untracked (Storm total). In fact, I ran into Joel Gratz from Opensnow.  This entire day was pure luck! No crowds, great conditions and made the rope drops. 

Below: Pic I snapped from the Tea Cup  Chair at Vail soon after opening (Had been closed for 2 days). 


From Vail, I chased to Breckenridge (Call me nuts) only for the hope that the Imperial chair would open (Closed since Friday).  I really like the top gates off that chair (Whales Tail).  I missed the opening by 30 minutes and hiked out to the far end of Whales Tail (Peak 7 snowfields?).  Amazing untracked and deep (3 patrollers hiked above me).  

2 Resorts in 4 hours with fully untracked powder.  My chase had finally come through! Has anyone ever chased to 2 resorts in a 4 hour period?  I have done the same with Utah chasing Big and Little Cottonwood. 


Light snow showers picked up late Sunday afternoon along I-70.  From looking at webcams and snow telemetry Monday should offer additional powder for Colorado.  There is a snow advisory out for the Eastern San Juan Range from NWS.  I am not seeing deep snow there (I could be wrong but optimism is low). Beaver Creek cams jumped 5-8 inches since 1 PM (Mainly after 1 PM) Sunday.  Other mountains including Vail along I-70 are in the 2-5 inch range. Snow showers will decrease after midnight with perhaps another 1-2 inches by Monday morning. Additional snow showers are likely again on Monday. There are still areas that remained closed today at some ski areas (Storm totals are rideable again Monday).  

The next storm brings moisture fetch into New Mexico on Tuesday.  This system will favor New Mexico but push some snow to the Front Range of Colorado late Monday into Tuesday.  N or NE winds will favor the Front Range Foothills and perhaps the Divide.  Wolf Creek will see light to moderate snow intoTuesday morning (4-7).  Taos is on the moderate side (5-8) with heavier moisture just north of Santa Fe (Might score).  Moderate to heavy snow is possible for Ski Apache in Ruidoso (Near Texas).  Summit County in Colorado will likely get teased with light snow as most of the moisture is south or East of the ski areas. 

The extended looks good so keep reading if you are still awake. 


A decent trough will enter the Pacific Northwest late this week (Thursday timeframe).  This will bring a decent show of snow to the Cascades that will eventually move into the Wasatch/Tetons and Colorado late this week.

Below: Moisture and cool temps enter the PNW by Thursday. 


Below: The PNW storm migrates over the Rockies by Friday.


Yet another system possibly heavier will enter the PNW for the weekend. This will take a similar track over the Rockies. Decent amounts are possible but its too far out to forecast with certainty.  

Below:  Storm #2 entering the PNW by the weekend. (Stronger). 


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Powderchaser Steve 

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