After countless cold, deep, and right side up epic storms bombarded the western US for weeks on end, we have been dealing with two consecutive sloppy storms. Rain at base elevations, winds gusting well over 100 mph, extreme avalanche danger and dangerous flooding have been the headlines over the last week, and we have a few more days under this regime. Dense, surfy, wind affected snow has been piling up, especially at upper elevations, but this setup limits post frontal precipitation, so we haven't been able to enjoy those deep, right side up storms with low density snow on top of a heavier layer below. One exception was at Sun Valley last week, where very cold temperatures ahead of the warm front resulted in low density snow followed by medium-density snow, with over 16\ total. The snow was slightly upside down, but overall still rode really well, as you can see in this clip.
As mentioned, this pattern will continue to deliver warm, dense, and wet snow through Friday, with a potential turn for the better in New Mexico thanks to a back door cold front. Meanwhile, a massive storm just unloaded nearly 4 FEET of snow in the Northeast, making up for a truly lackluster season. Once this messy storm wraps up, all eyes turn to next week, when cold air and good quality snow should return to much of the West. And for those in California and other regions looking for the endless stream of storms to come to an end, it doesn't look like that is happening anytime soon.
Before we dive into the forecast, let's take a quick look at some of the recent snow totals across the East and West.
- Mount Snow: 46\"
- Stratton: 40\"
- Magic Mountain: 36\"
- Jiminy Peak: 36\"
- Crotched Mountain 32\"
- Belleayre: 30\"
- Hunter Mountain: 24\"
- Jay Peak: 24\"
- Stowe 22\"
- Tamarack: 26\"
- Sugar Bowl: 19\"
- Mammoth: 16\"
- Snowbird: 16\"
- Kirkwood: 15\"
- Palisades 14\"
- Sun Valley: 14\"
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Short Term Forecast
The warm and windy atmospheric river originating near Hawaii is not through with us yet. Significant snow is expected in Colorado and New Mexico over the next few days, with additional upper-elevation snow in Southern Utah and Arizona as well. Snow is already underway in these areas, and will continue heavily until late Thursday night. If you like heavy, dense, surfy, sloppy snow, this is the storm for you. You can enjoy some of this deep snow, especially in southwest Colorado at Wolf Creek, where southwest flow will produce 18-30\" through Friday. Enough moisture is available with this storm to deliver 8-14\" at Telluride, who typically doesn't do well in this wind regime. Lesser totals, in the 4-10' range, are expected for Steamboat, the Aspen resorts, and Crested Butte, with generally 3-8\" for most of the other Colorado resorts.
Snow is falling in New Mexico as well, currently with very warm temperatures, and will continue through Friday morning. The only bright spot with this storm in New Mexico is a back door cold front that arrives Thursday afternoon. There is some question how far west this cold front will penetrate, and thus the amount of low density snow to finish the the storm is uncertain. Angel Fire should benefit from this cold air, and if it can make it over the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Taos, Red River, Ski Santa Fe, and Sipapu will as well. Because of this, we'll give a bigger range than normal, with 12-24\" expected at Taos, 10-20 for Red River, Sipapu, and Angel Fire. Anywhere from 4-10\" could fall after the back door cold front arrives, resulting in a solid pow day on Friday in New Mexico.
Meanwhile, some additional snow will be falling in southern Utah and northern Arizona, with 6-12 for Arizona Snowbowl, Brian Head, and Eagle Point, some of which is falling during the day today. Light snow will be falling across Northern Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming during this time as well, with only light accumulations expected, generally less than 6\".
See the snow forecast from the National Blend of Models through Friday below:
Long Term Outlook
Expect a brief break Friday and Saturday before the next system approaches the west coast. Snow will pickup in the Sierra AGAIN Saturday night or early Sunday, with another firehouse of moisture, as seen below.
While temperatures will start warm with this next storm, the models show a solid cold front arriving Monday night in the Sierra, Wednesday afternoon in the Wasatch, and Thursday morning in Colorado. While the exact timing of the cold front will likely change a bit, unlike the previous two storms, the models show ample post-frontal moisture. This should result in more of what we've grown accustomed to all season, right side up snow with good quality, low density on top. As has been the case all season, the deepest totals should fall in the Sierra, with respectable amounts in Utah and Colorado as well. Once again, by the end of next week, we could be talking about several feet of new snow for the Sierra, with potentially 1-2 feet possible for Utah and Colorado. We'll have another update for you on this storm soon.
Thanks for reading the forecast. Follow me @lstone84 on Instagram to track and chase storms all Winter long!