The last several days have been chaotic with Patrols catching up on the significant dumps from the weekend and for the holiday. While some folks on holiday grabbed the deepest snow, not all of them had the option to ski high quality due to winds, closures. etc. Some ski areas are just catching up in getting some lifts open at lower elevations of the Rockies (Colorado and Utah were the big winners from the past storm).
Chases in the next 3 days will take you from the PNW into the Rockies. Cold air is retreating in the PNW but returns late Wednesday. The Rockies are warming with a gradual cooling trend and an option to score double digits on Wednesday/Thursday. The Sierra grabs a wet and warm storm late this weeekend.
From riding 10-12 at Snowbasin, on Sunday we chased to Vail staging in Grand Junction Sunday night. Vail had 11-15 inches Sunday with another 5-7 inches for Monday (The previous 11-15 was not skied out nor was there any vis in the bowls Sunday. The wind blew it all back in Monday).
On Monday the backside of Vail did not open with strong winds blowing 55 MPH at the summits. Wind and snow were loading extensively on leeward-facing slopes. It is not often that Vail does not open any of the backside (They had good reason not to with the winds and avy danger increasing).
I-70 on Monday afternoon was as chaotic as it gets with road closures, stuck cars, trucks, you name it. It took me 10 hours to get from Vail to Boulder on Monday afternoon (Including the 4-hour closure). By Tuesday the Front Range was asleep and I-70 was wide open (we think most folks gave up on the I-70 corridor). we started driving back to Vail early Tuesday morning.
Below: @powderchasersteve via instagram in the endless quagmire of traffic and closures on I-70 in Colorado Monday afternoon as holiday traffic snarled the highway, Please visit our gold sponsor "The Tire Rack" for your best selection of snow tires and wheels. We run Blizzak on most of powder chasing fleets. If you purchase from our weblink here greater than $500 through the end of this week, we will send you a swag kit from Powderchasers (Shirt and stickers) Send us the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday, Vail patrol popped the back side around 9:30 Tuesday and what a surprise! Leeward slopes skied bottomless, full reset and one of my local friends summed it up as "Glorius". One of the top 5 days in years. The wind prone areas had less snow. What was also amazing was it was a virtual country club with perfect vis. You don't score that often. It was rip-it-laps all morning with face powder.
The PNW will see high moisture totals. Wednesday peaking from 11 AM to 4 PM. Warming has occurred in most of the western Cascades with the high 20s noted in most locations aside from Stevens and the I-90 Corridor with single digits (Extreme differences with the cold interior air keeping the passes 20-25 degrees warmer. Expect 7-15 inches during the day favoring the I-90 corridor and areas north to Baker. Snow will be blower near the passes and dense elsewhere. Wednesday night sees another disturbance that might favor the southern areas near Crystal or Oregon (Oregon is warming on Wednesday). This will be a flip-flopping game of temps, stronger winds Wednesday late AM, and a general cooling trend Thursday (Difficult or risky chase).
Below: 4800 foot temps are rising to near or above freezing for the PNW except Stevens Pass where very cold air is still dominating Wednesday morning.
Below: Cold air returns late Wednesday for the PNW with additional moderate snowfall possibly favoring the southern regions of Washington and northern Oregon on Thursday (Good quality 5-10).
For the rest of the west snow overspreads northern and central Idaho Wednesday (McCall area mountains with a bit less in the Panhandle (Moderate for Schweitzer). The Wasatch and Tetons are just beginning to see snowfall Wednesday morning. Temps have warmed into the upper 20s in Utah but remain colder in the Tetons (Better quality).
Below: Healthy totals for central Idaho, perhaps the northern Panhandle. The Tetons on the far right are going to grab totals from Wednesday to Thursday in the 9-15 inch range.
Snow will increase over the Wasatch and Tetons on Wednesday afternoon with a weak cold front (Better quality). While Utah mountains might see more snow (Cottonwoods due to cooler temps) Wednesday, the Tetons seem favored for Thursday morning with the higher overnight totals. The upper elevations of the Wasatch will grab much higher totals initially on Wednesday (Thursday lighter density on top of the surf). Chases in Utah are a bit of a gamble due to warming and surf on top of surf (Wind storm last weekend) but improve Thursday. Southern Montana will tease with 3-6 inches from Wednesday to Thursday.
Below Temps are colder in Montana and Wyoming on Thursday morning. This might enhance snow ratios for Big Sky and Bridger (Not a ton of moisture but with colder temps they could get lucky). The Tetons might end up doing well. Utah grabs higher totals Wednesday with warmer pre-frontal moisture, especially the Cottonwoods.
Finally, in Colorado, we have confidence in moderate snowfall amounts for almost every resort in the north and central mountains (Summit, Front Range, Elks, Rout County, Pitkin, Eagle, etc.). Amounts from Wednesday to Thursday might range in the 5-10 inch range (Thursday could be decent). one exception is noted for Rabbit Ears Pass/Steamboat for 11-18 inches! Ride late Wednesday or early Thursday. Colorado might be a good chase. One red flag is denser snow than the preceding storm and a trend to go from warm Wednesday to Cold Wednesday night followed by sharp warming for a few hours Thursday mid-morning. I think the quality will be a bit on the surfy side (That can be a good thing).
Below: You can see the highest snow totals from the Cascades to areas of Idaho, Tetons, Wasatch, and north/central Colorado from Wednesday to Friday. The highest totals will likely land Wednesday in the PNW and Wednesday to Thursday for the Rockies. The Sierra will score a deepish warm storm for the weekend.
Beyond this week the pattern stays a bit active with a wet and warm storm for the Sierra late in the weekend into early next week. The PNW stays active with pieces of energy focussing on western Canada and the Cascades with very warm temps (Rain at lower or even mid elevations). Scraps of snowfall might be possible for much of the northern Rockies. I don't see anything noteworthy currently. Hopefully this changes.
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Enjoy the powder, everyone! Remember, your deepest resort is not always the best chase. See you in the first chair somewhere on Monday.
Enjoy the powder, everyone!
Powderchaser Steve @powderchasersteve on Instagram