Epic Alert-3-4 Feet Of Snow For The West!

Summary and Heli Skiing Promotion:

The action won't stop in the west, with 2 systems (ARs) approaching the California Coast that take a southerly track over the Rockies. These systems are colder than the messy action we saw last week but in some areas of the Rockies, temps will struggle to bring snowfall below 8,000 feet. Timing and location are key to the chases this week. The southern San Juan ranges will grab hefty totals in the 2-4 feet range while areas further north will see a bit less. There are many places to chase powder with these systems but no standout due to timing and snow levels. Arctic air late next week! There is a lot to talk about. 

Alyeska has scored 2-3 feet in the past few days. Alaska Backcountry Heli Guides in Valdez is offering a free seat with the booking of 3 (Book 3 get 1 free) from March 19-25 (mention Powderchasers for the free seat).  They have been scoring deep snow even in Valdez (Sea level). 


The Sierra is grabbing 2 manageable storms with 6-11 inches from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning (Ride the last chair Sunday or 1st chair Monday that starts out warm and finishes cooler just as precipitation begins to end. Snow levels are respectable in the Sierra near 6500 feet initially through most of the action and dripping to 55000 by Monday (Lake level). The snow density is likely going to be 75% on the dense side with 25% on the medium side by Monday morning with snow showers decreasing by 9 AM. Another Atmospheric River lands Tuesday to Wednesday bringing slightly colder temps and an additional 12-15 inches of snow. This system drives snow levels below lake level and favors areas south of the lake, especially Mammoth. 

Bottom Line Sierra: 2 systems to ride with the first one denser than the 2nd. The 2nd system Tuesday-Wednesday might favor southern areas and is colder. Decent chase, with lifts, likely spinning and manageable from a snow safety perspective but for the powder snob, it might not fit the mold, especially for Monday morning. 

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Below- Storm #1 from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning. High confidence of 9-14 inches above 7,000 feet with 4-7 inches at the bases. This system should be good for the entire Sierra range with a bit more possible near Mammoth. It is also a bit warm


Below: Storm #2 (24-hour totals ending Wednesday morning) will be colder but will likely favor areas south of the lake. 


Snow will be falling in Southern Colorado and all of Utah (Southern and northern mountains) from late Sunday through Monday night. The southern areas of Colorado crank, primarily on Monday Am to the late evening, with 6-14 inches likely by your last chairs.  Central areas near Crested Butte and Aspen grab the northern edge (3-8) with very little snow getting east of Glenwood. Steamboat may also see some light or moderate snow. Temps will be warm while most of the snow is falling with rain possibly below 8,000 feet. It will not be blower! Snow totals will vary significantly from base to summit. 

Meanwhile, moisture from the 4 corners will stream north into Utah and Wyoming with the Sunday models showing an increase in Precipitation totals from previous runs. Northern Utah is likely to see decent precipitation rates late Sunday night or early Monday through the day when the lifts are spinning. Temps are a bit warm but colder than Colorado with rain possible in the Salt Lake Valley and dense snow for the bases of PCMR. SW flow might favor BCC over LCC, and areas of the Wasatch Back (PCMR, Deer Valley). Snowbasin is a wildcard in this scenario. Meanwhile, Southern Utah will get blasted by late Monday with models showing 10-18 inches for Brian Head by late Monday evening. Northern Utah resorts, especially the Cottonwoods will likely see 9-16 inches with areas near Park City from 6-12. Areas near Ogden should see decent snow, but it's a bit more of a wildcard (6-12 The Tetons get skimped with storm #1 with just 3-7 inches between Sunday and Tuesday but have merit with slightly colder temps. They see the peak in snowfall with storm #2 late Wednesday to Thursday. 

Storm #2 from the Sierra as mentioned above moves east taking a southerly track. Currently, the highest odds of very significant snow (Epic Alert) are from Southern Utah, Southern or central Colorado, and Northern Arizona. These areas will likely grab 20-30 additional inches of snow midweek.  Further north, current models show decent moisture headed for the Wasatch and even the Tetons, especially Wednesday to Thursday. The midweek period will also drive snowfall from the San Juan Ranges further north in Colorado into the western I-70 corridor favoring Aspen/Snowmass, Sunlight, Powderhorn, and even Steamboat. Further east confidence is less with moderate snow likely for your turns Thursday (Vail, Copper, Breck). Taos should score again for your turns on Thursday. 

Below: Total snowfall through Wednesday night for Colorado, Northern Arizona, and Utah combined from the Monday storm and the Wednesday system. The highest totals will be in the southern mountains (25-36 inches). Northern Utah could do well with high confidence in the first system Monday and a chance that snow continues at pretty decent rates Wednesday/Thursday for the Wasatch. The Tetons might score best Wednesday/Thursday. Snowfall for Colorado is focussed on the western side of the State with the central regions near Aspen-Sunlight, Powderhorn, CB, doing best with storm #2 midweek. Summit County could be an outside wildcard.

The chase might be confined to anywhere in Utah, southern or central Colorado (Steamboat wildcard), Teton wildcard (Wed-Thursday), northern Arizona, and Northern New Mexico. Temps start out pretty warm especially southern and central regions until mid or later next week. 


While you would think that late March would bring warmer temps, a polar vortex of cold air might overspread the west late next week and bring some heavy snowfall to the Cascades of Oregon and Washington. This needs to be watched as it makes it way south towards the Rockies. 

Below: Low pressure entering the PNW by Friday next week. Another system appears to be on it's heals as well! 


Below: Very cold air is plunging down from Canada late next week. This could pan out for some late March Blower for the PNW and Canada. 


Enjoy the powder everyone!  Powderchasersteve @powderchasersteve on Instagram. 

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