Very active morning especially for the Sierra where up to 100 inches are likely at the summits of the southern Sierra by Tuesday night. Where to chase? Good question! Warm air for the central and southern Rockies combined with about an inch of moisture will bring 8-12 inches to most areas of the southern Colorado mountains, Tetons, and Wasatch above 7,000 feet. Lower resorts will see much less snow. Chase high initially with many options early next week with much colder air.
It's snowing heavily in the Sierra currently! 11 inches of wet snow has fallen at Mammoth per automated Telemetry in the past 5 hours! Temps range from 24-29 degrees (Base to summit). Significant snowfall will impact the entire Sierra range today (1-2 feet above 7,000 feet) with some lowering of the snow levels mid-morning through late today (5500 feet). Where intense snow bands set up, it may drive the snow levels lower. Expect dense wind impacted snowfall for most of the morning with some lighter density later today. Winds will be strong at the summits. Upper lifts will most likely remain closed in wind prone areas. Snow tapers somewhat Saturday evening before increasing again into Sunday night through Tuesday (Colder- High Quality) along with winds in most areas. The southern Sierra near Mammoth may continue to receive heavy snow through the entire period (Very little breaks if any) on Sunday where areas further north will grab 4-8 inches (Saturday night to Sunday mid-AM). Mammoth will be in the 12-18 inch range (Saturday night through mid-AM Sunday). Total snowfall from the Friday night to Sunday timeframe will be 16-24 inches for the northern Sierra and 2-3 feet in the south. Storm ski Saturday and plan on moderate new snow for Sunday with decreasing winds. The Sunday timeframe may offer heavier amounts in the southern areas. Don't miss the extended forecast!
Below: Full Burial for the Sierra through Tuesday.
Elsewhere in the west, chases are likely for Sun Valley, Brundage, Tetons, Wasatch and south/central Colorado for Super Bowl Sunday. Even the northern Panhandle of Idaho may grab some moderate snow on Saturday. Northern AZ sees 8,000-foot snow levels and heavy snow for the Snowbowl near Flagstaff tonight.
Below: Warm air to the south with frigid temps in north/central MT, northern Idaho. A very distinct line is going to remain through early next week when temps drop significantly.
Sun Valley is in scoring position late Saturday through Sunday. South and SW winds will push decent totals into Ketchum by late Sunday. Temps are warm, so quality may be lacking at lower elevations. Brundage also looks good as a wildcard.
The models disagree somewhat for the Tetons for Sunday. GFS sees 4-8 tonight and 3-7 Sunday (7-15 total). The Euro sees lower totals in the Tetons by late Sunday in the 5-9 inch range with 7-15 north towards Yellowstone or Moose. Expect moderate snow Saturday night continuing into Sunday. Splitting the differences my best guess is 4-7 tonight and 3-6 Sunday (7-14 inches). Higher amounts are likely near the MT border with light to moderate snow into Big Sky. Temps will be warming somewhat Sunday morning so the quality will be okay up top but very dense at the bases (Temps flip flop several times between now and late Sunday). Jackson may see a rain/snow mix at times early tonight before turning to all snow Sunday morning.
Below: The GFS is bullish for the Tetons (8-14) through Sunday with the Euro not shown with lower amounts (7 is Jackson Airport but I think it's overdone).
The Wasatch is enticing but may end up a bit warmer than the Tetons (7,000-foot snow levels). Expect 5-11 inches of wet snow for elevations above 7,000 feet by Sunday morning. Rain/snow mix may be falling at some of the bases on Sunday. Additional snow will fall during the morning adding up to slightly higher amounts by Noon. SW flow favors Big Cottonwood, Deer Valley, Park City, and Snowbasin. Be sure you check temps and elevations stats before venturing out Sunday. High winds Saturday night (90 MPH Gusts) are going to create some interesting surprises for Sunday. WInds decrease Sunday somewhat but remain strong. It's possible delays exist on upper mountain lifts especially early. Set your expectations low on quality and hopefully, you can get some surprises especially at upper elevations. It could range from full-on fun cream with some lighter pow at the top to a full-on SHXT show with wind impacted mank. It's going to be elevation dependant.
Colorado grabs 6-12 inches in the southern or central mountains after midnight Saturday through Sunday. AM snow reports will be lower as it will be snowing for most of the day. Models are not overly impressed with the warmer temps and low snow ratios (9:1). It's possible that you get stuck with 6 inches at some places and get lucky on the 12. Where? Good question! I am bullish for Silverton, Purgatory. Fairly confident for Wolf Creek. Somewhat confident for Telluride and Crested Butte. Wildcards are Aspen and Steamboat. Since snow is starting late Saturday night or early Sunday it may be tough to monitor webcams to chase. I think, if you positioned yourself in Durango, you could go in many directions. Perhaps position in Montrose and consider Telluride or the Butte?
EXTENDED POW FORECAST
The Sierra gets CRUSHED with another 2-4 feet of snow between Monday and late Tuesday. Lighter density snow and strong winds at times will nail the entire range. Plan to ride Monday or Tuesday morning. Plan on getting skunked on your favorite lifts due to winds at times. There will be peaks and valleys on the winds. I can't narrow down exact periods of gusts, but it's likely Monday morning and again Tuesday morning may see issues. It's also possible that breaks allow terrain to open slowly both Monday and Tuesday. Quality will be excellent but the wildcard skunk on openings will be in full force! Wednesday will offer more terrain openings.
Snow from the Sierra and colder air will bring higher quality to a wide area of the Rockies Tuesday-Thursday. Snow will increase Tuesday and peak at some point into Wednesday. Riding will be good in many locations late Tuesday/Wednesday and perhaps Thursday (Colorado hangs on a bit longer). Details will follow on a future post. Check out our Concierge service for custom chase forecasts for your last minute travel plans. Also, visit our sponsors! Sno Shark will be mandatory in the Sierra this week!