SUMMARY: January 2, 2019- Happy New Year everyone!
The Southern San Juan mountains were pounded in the last 2 days with up to 36 inches in 24 hours at some resorts. The next 7 days features decent odds of a dump for interior BC and a progressive pattern of heavy moisture for the coastal Cascades and Whistler. January is coming in hot (Literally with 6,000-foot snow levels in the PNW) but cools by Friday with a good chance of several feet of snow in many areas of the PNW. The weekend may feature continued light or moderate snow in the Cascades. Models disagree on the Rockies with a chance of snow to return to the Tetons and Wasatch late this weekend. The Sierra is going to nab a good storm late this weekend!
If you were going to look back at the perfect chase it would have been 1) Tetons Sunday (12-20), 2) Wasatch Monday (7-14), and San Juans Tuesday (20-35). If anyone actually accomplished this 3 State chase please comment at the bottom of this post! You would have scored 57-60 inches of blower pow in 3 days in 3 States.
Highlights from the past 48 hours:
Pajarito Ski Area NM- 36 inches in 24 hours (They may not have opened yesterday)?
Wolf Creek CO- 32 inches in 24 hours
Purgatory CO- 22 inches (48 hours)
Taos NM - 18 inches (48 hours).
The next 7 days will feature some difficult decisions with rain and snow at most locations in the Northwest migrating to mostly snow by the weekend. If I could land somewhere today, it would be in the interior BC where moderate snow will be falling in the next several days. Amounts of 12-15 inches will be likely especially central and northern areas of BC. Caveat: Temps start out cold today and warm on Thursday. Rain at the bases extending to lower elevations of the ski resorts will be likely. Medium density or dense snow will be falling above 3500 feet. Temps cool again by Friday.
The Cascades of Washington and Whistler will receive significant moisture in the next 3 days. The jet is pointed in a SW direction funneling into the North Cascades (Baker) and Whistler. 2-4 inches of moisture will fall in the next 72 hours. Snow levels remain low enough today where 7-9 inches of snow may fall at Baker tonight above 4,000 feet before rising on Thursday. Expect wet dense snow Thursday morning turning to all rain from mid-mountain to the base late AM. Meanwhile, in interior Washington in areas north towards Twisp (North Cascade Heli) 12-20 inches of heavy wet snow will be falling in the highest peaks of the wilderness areas above 6,000 feet. If your headed to Whistler expect very heavy snowfall at the summits in the next 2 days with rain at lower elevations.
Colder air works into the Cascades late Thursday night/Friday. Rain will change to snow above 3500 feet and crank out significant snowfall for Whistler and the North Cascades of Washington Friday. The southern areas towards Crystal will see a moderate powder day for Friday morning (4-7). Snow continues Friday albeit light in the southern areas. Northern areas of Washington or BC will continue to see moderate snowfall Friday. Amounts will be impressive this week at the summits! Saturday offers a break with cool temperatures (This may be the day to dig out the summit of Whistler).
Below: Total moisture for the Cascades showing 3-4 feet for the northern mountains including Whistler summit. Rain will be falling at lower elevations below 5500-6,000 feet until Friday. Summits will be buried where mid or bases will see lighter amounts. Light to moderate snow for lower elevations Friday/Saturday. Oregon does best Saturday/Sunday.
All attention focuses on California for later this weekend in the extended forecast below.
The Sierra is currently at 65-80% of normal on snowpack (SWE). This weekend will bump those numbers up with a decent fetch of moisture due to arrive Saturday night.
Moderate to heavy snow will be falling above 5500 feet for most of the Sierra range (Squaw, Kirkwood, Mount Rose, Sugarbowl, Mammoth, June Mtn) Snow levels will lower by Sunday morning so areas at lake level will also see accumulating snowfall.
Higher elevations at the ski resorts of Tahoe should nab 12-18 inches by Sunday morning. Some higher amounts are possible near the Crest. Light snow continues Sunday. Models are in good agreement with this storm. It's possible a secondary system develops Sunday afternoon into Monday with another decent shot of moderate snowfall for the Sierra. Both Sunday and Monday may offer powder days for the Sierra.
Below: Total snowfall for the Sierra through Monday morning.
The Cascades stay in a cool showery period this weekend. Light or moderate snow continues for most of the Cascade Range. Oregon may be favored this weekend with resorts such as Bachelor, Timberline or Hood ramping up some decent conditions.
The Rockies have very different model solutions for the Tetons and Wasatch range of Utah. The GFS wants to bring some moderate snow to the Tetons and central Idaho Sunday/Monday where the Euro keeps most moisture to the south. The California system may split with a northern and southern branch. It's likely that Utah nab some light or moderate snow Sunday/Monday with models also showing differences in solutions. Southerly winds may favor resorts in Big Cottonwood, Deer Valley or Sundance. Temps are not very cold, so amounts may be limited to higher elevations. Colorado will grab leftovers at some point Monday or Tuesday (Too far out to forecast).
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