There is a lot going on in the Powderchasers forecast office on Thursday morning. Colorado performed as forecasted with generally 3-7 inches for many ski areas near the Front Range. Alaska is getting crushed with a report of 65 inches on Thompson Pass, and unofficial data showing 30 inches mid-mountain at Alyeska Ski Resort.
Snow will continue on Thursday for the Alaskan ranges near Thompson Pass and Valdez. The Pacific Northwest turns on the guns this weekend with your best bets in the central and northern ranges of Washington and most of the coastal areas of BC.
Alaska is buried- Headline News
Our forecast is on track with unofficial reports from Alyeska using telemetry at 30-plus inches at mid-mountain for Alyeska. It is still snowing however intensity is going to decrease on Thursday. Reports from Alaska Highway trucks are 65 inches at the summit of Thompson Pass. WOO HOO.This is an epic storm, however, 5-10 feet of snow for Thompson Pass is not unusual.
Below: Unofficial data showing the snow depth jumped from 1 inch at mid-mountain at Alyeska to 29 inches in just 12 hours. The 0400 24-inch measurement may have been from some heavier-density snow (Warming) pushing the total sensor amount lower. The summit is likely higher in totals.
Below: Additional snowfall through late Thursday evening for Alaska favoring areas east of the Kenai towards Valdez. Some additional moderate amounts will still be found at Alyeska but at a lower intensity. We suspect bigger totals will be reported by midday Thursday. We can't wait to hear snow totals, especially the backcountry zones that will be very deep.
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Below: Turnagain Pass Alaska Wednesday, November 8th as the snow started falling. Photo: Adam Hoke
Colorado delivered as forecasted with the storm delivering 3-7 inches for most ski areas. The models were generally in that range aside from the European which was showing 5-10 inches. In looking at snow telemetry at Berthoud Pass it's possible that 7 inches fell with data showing a snow height of 9.0 inches (Starting at 2.0). Snow quickly departed late Wednesday night and is currently pushing into the Southern sections of Colorado near I-25. We feel good about the forecast leading up to this storm.
Below: Berthoud Pass Thursday morning. Who's that first guy in the lot?
Pacific Northwest/Canada Powder Alert -Saturday-Sunday.
As mentioned in yesterday's post the northern and perhaps central regions of the Cascades should finally get a deep storm from Friday night to Saturday this week. Temps are cooler than previous events with snow levels in the 4000-foot range (Base of Crystal). Extreme SW winds (Gusts over 50 MPH) are likely with this event. SW winds should favor areas north towards Mt Baker, Whistler, and the coastal ranges of BC and eventually veer more westerly providing areas near Stevens Pass of the mid-elevations above Snoqualmie Pass and perhaps northern Idaho.
This storm is coming in 2 phases with a lighter amount on Thursday/Friday and a significant amount from Saturday to Sunday. Sunday will be the deeper day!
Below: Total snowfall through Sunday mid-morning for the PNW favoring the central or northern Cascades of Washington and coastal ranges of BC. The highest amounts will likely be above 4,000 feet with mixed precipitation possible near 3500. the map below Includes snow from Thursday night (Light event) and the weekend (Main event). Northern Idaho is a contender as well.
Below- Freezing level- 4800-foot temperatures (1 C) are just a tad above freezing (33F) so it's likely the actual snow level (The rain-snow line) is closer to 4,000 feet for this next storm (Near the bases). While a freezing level shown below is near 4800 feet, the actual snow level could be 500-800 feet lower especially in enhanced precipitation that drives the snow level down. We don't expect much rain at the bases with this storm.
Bottom Line: Best storm of the season due to slightly cooler temperatures. High winds will create issues in snow quality yet enhance precipitation totals, and moisture content (Great for base building). I suspect you won't be sinking to the bottom due to density (Good for an early storm if you must venture out). Mid and upper elevations will fare well. Stay north for the highest totals including Canada. This will kick off the bases at many areas.
We discussed the massive storm that might land over the Sierra next week. Some models backing off on totals for the lake and pushing the storm track a bit further west and south. It's possible that the significant moisture totals stay a bit west of the lake or skirt along the coast pushing more inland towards the southern Sierra. There is no great consensus at this point. Based on the models from Thursday morning, we are 50/50 on the outcome for the Sierra. We are confident in some snowfall with decreasing snow levels by Thursday morning next week (November 16). I am less confident in amounts.
Below: The American model showing total moisture through Friday morning (November 17) for the Sierra highlighting the coastal ranges with less precipitation moving inland (1/2 inch of moisture for the lake area).
Below: The European model shows higher moisture totals during the same period mid to late next week further inland (4 inches of moisture) but still just west of the lake. This model would provide significant snowfall for Mount Shasta in the north.
Below: The National Blend of models (Average of several model runs) is still showing a decent event for the lake as well as the Canadian Model. Our confidence is not high at this point.
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Enjoy the powder everyone!