After what seemed like a never ending stretch of deep storms, things have been quiet for the last few days. Perhaps all of our powder legs needed a bit of a break. The break is coming to an end soon though, with a fairly active pattern returning. We don't see any blockbuster storms in the near future, but fresh snow will be falling across much of the West starting today (Friday).
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Short Term Forecast
The first of several storms will get started Friday afternoon in the Northwest. Generally, this is a fairly moist storm but with higher snow levels than we'd like. Snow will be falling in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana with this first storm. This will not be a major event, but rather a medium to high density refresh. With little snowfall in coastal British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon during the last few weeks, this is a much needed storm. Some dense snow to cover the unfriendly surface will be beneficial at this time.
Coastal British Columbia and Washington will be the winners from this storm. Snow levels will start around the base elevations of most resorts across BC and Washington, and only lower slightly, as this storm doesn't feature much of a cold front. Snow will be a bit on the dense side with this storm. Saturday morning is your best pow day here, with 6-10\" for Baker, 4-8\" for Stevens and Snoqualmie, and 3-6\" for Whistler and Crystal. Snow will continue to fall during the day on Saturday, with additional light accumulations.
The best dynamics will be focused on BC/Washington, so Oregon/Idaho/Montana will see lesser impacts from this storm. Snow will begin today (Friday) in Oregon, and tonight in Idaho and Montana, falling through the end of the day Saturday with moderate accumulations. Expect 3-6\" generally, with a bit more, perhaps 5-10\" at Bachelor and Timberline. This will be more of a low and slow event in Oregon, with light to moderate snow during the period. In Idaho, expect 3-6\", with less as you move into the central and southern parts of the state. Meanwhile in northwest Montana, only a few inches are likely to fall.
Below are the National Blend of Models projected storm totals from the first storm.
The second storm will take a more southerly track, bringing snow back to the Sierra, Utah, southern Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. This will be a stronger storm than the first, and also have a bit more cold air with it as well, falling right side up with good timing. A few good powder days should result from this storm. The deepest snow will be in the Sierra, with lesser amounts across the other states.
Snow will start in the evening on Saturday in California, and increase overnight. Snow levels will start high, around 6k, just below the bases of most of the Tahoe resorts, and drop through the night. By morning, snow levels should be around 4k, bringing good quality snow to the Sierra. Winds will be strong overnight, but not the worst we've seen this year. Ridge gusts up to 100mph are possible, with lesser gusts lower down, and decreasing by morning. Snow quality should be ok and winds shouldn't affect lifts on Sunday. Expect solid right side up totals by Sunday morning, in the 8-16\" range in the Tahoe basin, with resorts along the Crest potentially seeing slightly higher totals. Snow will continue during the day on Saturday, adding an additional 4-10\" to these totals. Go get it, literally everyone in California...
Light snow will start falling early Sunday morning in Idaho, and Sunday afternoon in Utah and Wyoming, becoming heavier through the afternoon and evening hours. Right now, this is looking like a moderate storm in these areas. The best time to ride will be late Sunday in Idaho/Wyoming and Monday morning in Utah. Overall, this looks like a a moderate event, with 6-12\" for the Cottonwoods and Tetons, and lesser amounts in northern Utah and Idaho. Snow starts a bit later, on Sunday night, in Colorado, and the northern mountains will be favored. The biggest totals should be at Steamboat, where 5-10\" are expected, with lesser amounts as you move south, but still 3-8\" for most of the other resorts. Below are the National Blend of Models projected storm totals from the second storm.
Before storm #2 is finished, another system will move into the northwest. This looks like a solid storm that starts out warm, but gets much colder by the end. Totals look a bit deeper in coastal BC and Washington, so there's definitely some pow day potential. The timing for the snow is Tuesday to Wednesday, so be prepared to ski/ride those days if you live in the Northwest. Below is a gif of the upper level pattern during the next week. You can see the first two storms we've discussed in this post move through the West, followed by storm #3 tracking through the northwest early next week.
Long Term Outlook
As mentioned, the pattern looks to stay generally active. There will be some breaks in the action, where things dry out for a bit, but we don't see any prolonged period with no storms in the West at this time.
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Thanks for reading the forecast. Follow me @lstone84 on Instagram to track and chase storms all Winter long!