A low-pressure system will track directly through New Mexico spinning moisture up from the south. The exact track is still a bit unclear with the American Model showing better odds of some decent snowfall pushing west into Taos. Most models show the highest totals on the eastern ranges of Taos County and further south towards Ski Santa Fe or perhaps Angel Fire. Both mountains can score well with S. SE winds. Overall confidence for a deep Taos dump is less. Aim to chase to the highest elevations where Ski Santa Fe takes the advantage at 10,300. Temps are warm (The motto of El Niño all season) and it may be raining below 7500 feet. Temps at 10K feet will be near 24 Degrees (dense base building snow).
Below: Snow totals will vary greatly by any deviation of the storm track. GFS has a more northerly track into Colorado with the European further south (Less snow for Colorado). I would expect 5-10 inches in the areas highlighted on this map by Thursday morning. Taos is a wildcard with perhaps less snow. NM will likely outperform the Colorado mountains. Our bet is on Santa Fe to take the win. Bottom Line: Good timing for overnight snow into Thursday. Warm denser snow. Any slight deviation will provide big bust or boom potential, especially for Colorado or northern areas near Taos.
Alaska continues to add up totals with another 10 inches expected this week at Alyeska. Next week looks even deeper for Alaska. Peak snowfall this week will be on Tuesday/Wednesday. Thompson Pass and areas towards Valdez will see much higher totals this and next week.
Announcement: Alaska Backcountry Guides still has some limited Heli seats open this season. We have high regards for this operation situated in Valdez and purely focussed on riding powder ( You stay in Valdez). Mention Powderchasers when booking and receive a free Concierge Package for the season.
The extended offers some big boom and bust potential.
There is a low-pressure system that is going to sit off the California coast next week. The American ensemble is the bullish kid that says "I'm going to move into the Sierra by Tuesday next week December 19th" with some moderate snow. The European Ensembles are like "No way, I'm going to tease California and sit east over the water and chill out"
Currently, the confidence of a shift of the jet further south and increasing moisture is high. Confidence is much lower in if these storms move inland enough to make any dent in the snowpack. The European ensembles shift the moisture south along the coast before moving inland and weakening. We had a storm similar to this earlier in the season (Models flip-flopped from no snow to big snow to a result of moderate totals).
There might be another chance of a stronger system near Christmas Eve, but that's also too far out to have confidence in. If these storms move inland, some additional snow is likely for the gut of the Rockies (Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho (This pattern could be good for Sun Valley with southerly flow). The bad news is that temps are continuing to be warm (El Niño Signature) and snow levels will be as high as 7,000 feet initially next week.
Below: 10K Foot temps on next week, December 18- 19th at a balmy 25 degrees through at least late next week for the Sierra and even warmer for the Rockies (Near freezing). It might feel a bit like spring skiing in some places. (Temps in Celsius 10K).
There is a cold front due for the west around December 25th for the Sierra. The 2nd system I spoke about above might increase your odds of some decent snow for the Sierra and Rockies close to the holiday. This cold front is quickly replaced by warmer air on the backside.
Below: A cold front is possible for the Sierra on December 23rd that will push east over the Rockies. Map-10K feet in Celsius. These are respectable temps for higher quality snow.
Below: American GFS ensembles push an open trough east over much of the west as we approach the holiday. Some moisture might also be falling in the Sierra as early as Tuesday next week (Dec. 19). This is the bullish kid. This would provide snowfall to the Sierra early next week and again for the Holiday period pushing into the Rockies just prior to Xmas. Keep reading for another perspective.
Below: The European drags most of the moisture south along the coast providing less odds of a decent dump for the west as we approach the holiday. The pessimist also keeps the low offshore early next week with low odds of snowfall.
Bottom Line: Decent confidence of a pattern change shifting moisture and the jet stream further south next week. Low confidence in any deep dumps early next week, with medium confidence of some action as we approach the holiday. Warmer than average temps are likely until a cold front moves in near the holiday period. Boom or bust potential.
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Below: @powderchasersteve via Instagram scoring a deep run at Snowbird last weekend. Full video on Instagram.
Stay safe everyone!