The next 2-5 days look epic in many parts of the West, especially for the Sierra, southern and central Rockies. A very cold and moist airmass is moving into the Sierra right now with much-needed snow! The track scoops south blasting the southern 4 corners late this week. Moisture feeds to the north under southerly winds into most of Utah, meandering into Wyoming and Colorado late week. Chases are abundant. If resorts were all open, we would be starting in CA right now and chasing east as the week moved on. Some areas of the Sierra might see 4-7 feet by Sunday.
The last storm for Utah and Colorado was one of my trickiest forecasts in a long time. I mentioned a skunk hole over Summit and better moisture to the west such as Telluride Aspen and perhaps Eagle County. There was no question on the chase forecast that the metro areas north of I-70 would get crushed. The winds were favorable in these locations. Why did areas further west do better than Summit when the bulk of moisture was over the Front Range. Winds on this storm were from the W-NW on the far western side of the State with N NE on the eastern side. Upslope existed near Denver while a favorable downsloping pattern existed further west, especially Eagle County extending into the northern San Juan range (Telluride does well with NW winds). I completely missed the forecast on Monarch! I am surprised that Loveland and Winter Park did not report higher numbers (Wildcards). The really cool thing is that the models picked up on this quite well allowing me to forecast this pattern.
Totals in Colorado in the past 24 hours.
Eldora: 10 inches
Telluride 10 inches
Monarch 9 inches
Steamboat 7 inches
Beaver Creek 6 inches
Summit County- 1-2 inches
Winter Park 1 inch (Missed the mark on this one).
Utah scored 10 inches in Little Cottonwood, with much less elsewhere (NW flow favored LCC).
The Sierra gets 18-28 inches between Tuesday night and Thursday morning. Cold fresh turkey feathers may continue into the holiday. The highest amounts (3 feet) will be found on the Crest favoring the southern ranges slightly (Kirkwood is likely to come out on top or perhaps Mammoth). I would be chasing there if there was a base.
Below: Wide area of 2 feet or more for the Sierra range, might be deeper on the southern Crest areas from Kirkwood to Mammoth. All areas do very well this Tuesday night to Wednesday. Valley snow will also be deep.
In the Rockies, some moisture kicks east apart from the main energy (Parent low is dropping well south into California). This moisture kicks into Utah for Wednesday (light to moderate snow) The winds are the tricky factor for Utah predominately from the South. If you are on the chase, the heaviest precipitation for the Rockies comes late Wednesday night into Friday for most areas. The focus will be the southern San Juans of Colorado, southern Utah and northern Arizona. 2-3 feet will fall at all of these locations by late Friday. In northern New Mexico, the models are very bullish for 1-2 feet especially Friday into Saturday.
Below: The University of Utah ensembles for Arizona are off the charts this week with up to 50-80 inches of snow possible. These might be slightly overdone! I would not be surprised to see 40-50 inch totals by late Friday.
For northern areas, Utah continues to score steady light to moderate snowfall (No single deep event in any 6 hour period) with moisture streaming up from the south. S or SW winds should favor Sundance, Deer Valley, Park City (Canyons will se a cutoff low that is going to be hovering over the Canadian Rockies, and most of central and northern portions of Montana for several days. The big story is unusually cold temperature that will drop mountaintop readings into the single digits in Canada and low teens in the Northern Rockies. Many areas will see their first valley snowfall by the weekend. That system is expected to stall and bring up to 20 inches or more to northern Montana. At this point we feel very confident about Glacier National Park and areas of central Montana. Whitefish will be seeing snowfall but amounts will be less as higher amounts fall just to its east. Snow will also be falling in Canada as we finish out the work week with decent amounts likely for both British Columbia (Revelstoke) and Alberta (Sunshine Village, Banff). Whistler will see lighter amounts.
That system moves south late this weekend in the Wasatch and most of Wyoming. Due to some model discrepancy it's not clear how much snow the Tetons and areas towards Big Sky and Bridger Bowl nab this weekend. I am confident for moderate amounts in all of these areas. Some models hint at 5-10 inches and others are a bit more bullish. Winds are NE through much of the even before shifting more S or SW which leads to some mystery with amounts for those ranges. With a cut off low some magic can bring higher amounts. In the Wasatch the northern regions of Utah perhaps near Beaver Mountain, or even the mountains near Snowbasin see higher amounts. The Uinta Range east of Park City is likely to see the highest totals. Both Little and Big Cottonwood will see 4-10 inches but we are still 5 days out with some model changes likely.
Other highlights include likely snow for the Sierra at some point late this weekend. Models generally have not agreed with the Euro being optimistic and the GFS a bit of pessimist. Colder temperatures should kick off snowfall late this weekend in most of the northern Sierra with our early forecast in the 3-8 inch range at upper elevations. The further north you travel, the more snow is likely where resorts south may see much lighter amounts. The northern interior Cascades also show decent snow totals in WA this weekend with lighter amounts filtering all the way through Oregon.
Bottom Line: Significant snow in north/central Montana and interior Canada with moderate amounts further south. Heaviest snow will focus on the Divide and areas favored with NE winds. That includes central Wyoming. Moisture will spill south into the Tetons and Wasatch with moderate amounts. Some snow will be falling in the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest and Sierra late this weekend (North favored). The bulk of snowfall for the Rockies will be the latter half of the weekend as all models have slowed the timing. We are still 5 days out so model confidence is moderate. Updates will be issued on the website.
Below: Total snowfall through early next Wednesday favoring northern Montana, Canada, and some spots of central Wyoming. The Euro (Not shown) is more bullish especially for the Sierra. Most areas of the west will see snowfall at some point towards the latter half of the week into next. Much colder temps will be seen in all these areas!
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