HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM POWDERCHASERS!
The past 48 hours have been wild! Nearly every ski area in the west has scored pow in the past few days with 3-4 feet being reported at Crested Butte (40 plus inches in 48 hours) Sierra Ranges and 1-2 feet for the central Colorado mountains including areas of Summit County. Quality was dense initially in Colorado and the Sierra until Friday's cold front where another foot of snow fell during the day and overnight (Palisade At Tahoe had 12 inches fresh for opening). Nearly every resort in Montana scored powder also with 15 inches at Ski Lookout, 10 inches at Teton Pass Ski area, and 3-5 inches at Big Sky. Strong winds have kept most upper mountains closed in the Sierra and also in Utah where gusts are in excess of 60-100 MPH. Lower mountain terrain will get better in the next 48 hours with colder temps and significant base elevations snows for the west.
Chases: Looking at the models (Wind, Snow density, depth) there are many options. The Pacific Northwest continues to score cold pow at a light to moderate clip (4-7 inches every 12-24 hours) favoring the central and southern regions of WA and most of Oregon where I estimate 20-30 inches will fall from late Saturday to early Tuesday. The Oregon Coast is going to see snowfall (Sea level) which is very impressive. I would favor Oregon resorts over Washington for deepness. Northern Idaho will continue to reap rewards from Saturday to Sunday with another 7-12 inches likely for the regions near Selkirk Powder (Sandpoint). Ride Sunday morning or midday for the deepest snow. Schweitzer reported 12 inches as of Saturday morning!
Below: Sea level snowfall for Oregon! Heavy mountain snow inland including Bachelor, Timberline, Mt Hood, and even Hood River. Inland areas get crushed.
In the Sierra, snow intensity increases late Saturday to Sunday before weaning slightly and picking up again late Sunday to Monday. Expect 18-26 inches by Sunday mid-morning (Base level snow will be deep with colder temps) and strong SW winds. Lift impacts, closures at upper peaks are almost certain. There may be a brief decrease in winds by Sunday morning before increasing again late. The entire Sierra Range will see heavy snowfall including southern CA mountain ranges (Lesser amounts). From Mammoth to the core of northern CA will be very deep with 2 storms in the near term this weekend and early next week. Both Sunday and Monday will be powder days. As of 2PM Saturday I-80 just closed near Reno (Good luck).
Below: Sea level snowfall in Oregon and Washington! Deep snow possible in the mountains along the Oregon coast (Rare to see this). Heavy snow will fall inland.
Below: Strong winds in the Sierra Saturday night into Sunday morning where they will decrease from extreme to strong at the peaks (Lower lifts likely will spin). Upper lifts are a wildcard.
In the Rockies, expect a repeat storm favoring the southern and central mountains. This will be a combination of 2 storms Saturday-Sunday and another Sunday-Tuesday. Currently the deepest totals will fall from central Idaho (Ketchum and north), northern Montana (Whitefish) into the Teton Ranges, Wasatch, and a wide area of Colorado. Sunday will offer fresh turns in many areas with up to 9-15 inches for the Tetons and Wasatch (Northern Wasatch might be favored on this storm- Snowbasin and even Beaver Mountain). Some higher amounts are possible in the Cottonwoods of Utah where the models show 12-18 inches by noon Sunday. Extreme winds are likely with this storm so chase wisely! Snow may decrease on Sunday before additional pow arrives for Sunday night into Monday (Another 9-12 inches for many areas). Winds will also be decreasing from extreme Sunday to moderate/strong on Monday. Light to moderate snow will also impact southern Montana including Big Sky. You will need patience with this storm due to avalanche control and wind lift impacts. The Wasatch might exceed 20-30 inches by Tuesday.
Below: Heavy snowfall for the Tetons, Wasatch, central Idaho, and a wide area of Colorado (South and central favored) by Tuesday morning. Snow will continue into Wednesday morning in some locations further east. Sum totals on this map are from Saturday to Tuesday morning but with colder temps amounts will be deeper (18:1 snow ratios). Some snow noted north of Flagstaff AZ early next week.
For Colorado expect a steady stream of snowfall from mid Sunday to perhaps Wednesday with small breaks. Snow totals in the Southern San Juan Range (Wolf Creek, Silverton, Purgatory) will be in the 2-3 feet range by Wednesday morning (Several opportunities for pow both Monday morning and Tuesday, and perhaps Wednesday). Crested Butte will get nailed again (From Zero to Hero this week), and deep amounts are also likely for the Aspen area. Further north along I-70 this will perform well well for most areas at a slower clip late Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. The models show 15-25 inches for the Vail Valley by Wednesday morning, and extending 11-18 inches into Summit County and areas just north. Expect 5-10 inches in these areas each day (late Sunday night/Monday, Tuesday/decreasing Wednesday) with several chases likely. This will be a good snow producer for many areas of Colorado once again with the central, southern and western I-70 resorts seeing the highest amounts. Breckenridge might outperform, often doing will with SW winds Areas north of I-70 will see less (9-15). Steady snow Sunday PM to late Tuesday or Wednesday (2 moderate to strong events)
Special mention: Arizona Snowbowl had another 11 inches of powder Friday with more snow on the way for the end of the weekend and early next week. Taos in New Mexico reported 18 inches in New Mexico with around 9 inches further south.
Chases- Oregon, Southern Washington, Sierra Range, Tetons, Northern Montana, Wasatch, Colorado, Arizona and north or central portions of Idaho. You can score powder almost everyday from Sunday to Wednesday. Deepest spots? Sierra, Upper peaks of the Wasatch, Tetons, South/central Colorado, Northern Oregon (All will exceed 2-3 feet).
Happy Holidays everyone! Santa delivered! Follow my Instagram page @powderchasersteve for the latest in adventure travel and soon-to-be deep pics.