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Warm, Wet Week Ahead

After several weeks of cold, dry powder across the West, the West is in for a warm, wet week ahead. A major atmospheric river will impact the West, bringing warm temperatures and moisture across the region. The only region that will have to worry about rain will be California, although lower elevation resorts in the southwest (UT, CO, NM) may see mixed precipitation at times.

Check out the atmospheric moisture transport below from the GFS on Friday morning... impressive!

California

California had some additional dry powder overnight Tuesday, with 6-7 inches for most resorts in the region.

Precipitation rates will skyrocket on Wednesday morning and bring very heavy snowfall. Snowfall rates will decrease throughout the day, but should deliver a solid 4-8” for the west Tahoe basin and 2-5” for the east Tahoe basin during the ski day on Wednesday.

The next wave of precipitation arrives on Thursday afternoon. This is the start of a very warm, wet atmospheric river that will bring lots of rain and mixed precipitation to the region. This storm is very tricky to forecast, since there is a ton of uncertainty in when the snow will switch to mixed precip/rain and vice versa. 

Above: the NAM showing lots of rain and not a whole lot of snow on Friday morning...

This wave will bring respectable totals overnight on Thursday night (potential for 12+ inches), although mixed precip and rain will set in before the lifts open on Friday. Higher elevation resorts like Kirkwood, Mt. Rose, and Heavenly will offer the best ski quality on Friday. The tricky thing about Friday is that strong winds will keep the upper mountains closed and warm temperatures will mean rain/mix on the lower mountains. 

Above: strong winds on Friday AM sustained in the 50's and 60's at 10K (Gusts will be much higher).

Snow levels will hover between 6,000 and 7,000 feet for most of Friday before dropping below lake level in the afternoon/evening. After that, temperatures will remain warm but will permit snow at most resorts for the rest of the week. This means that the rest of the snow that falls with this system will be wet and heavy, but it certainly beats rain! 

Saturday will be a better day of skiing, with the potential for 8-16+ inches overnight and another 3-6” during the day. The models are struggling a bit deciding on a solution for Sunday, but it could be another 15+ inch day! This could be decent chasing, but be aware that the snow will be dense... certainly not blower powder but still fun.

Utah

This same surge of moisture arrives in Utah on Friday morning. Thankfully, the precipitation from this system will stay all snow, although the snow will be unusually dense. There will be a cold storm prior to Friday for Utah delivering 5-11 inches over the Wasatch Range (Models are flip flopping between northern regions or south). Wake up Thursday and there should be some surprise totals, but overall it's a moderate storm by Utah standards. 

Friday will be a fun day of skiing with 2-4” for northern Utah, 7-12” for Cottonwood resorts, 4-8” for PC/DV, and 3-5” for Eagle Point in southern UT. Strong snowfall continues through Friday night, bringing some excellent overnight totals by Saturday morning:

  • Northern UT: 4-8”
  • Cottonwoods: 8-12”
  • PC/DV: 3-7”
  • Southern UT: 2-4”

Light snow showers will persist into Saturday morning, but no major accumulation is expected.

Idaho/Wyoming

Idaho and Wyoming will also do well and resorts in the region have the advantage of further north and higher elevation, keeping the snow a bit lighter. The best chase target for Friday and Saturday will be Sun Valley.

Snow will begin on Thursday night, with snowfall rates peaking in the morning and staying strong during the day. Most resorts will be looking at 3-7\" overnight with the exception being Sun Valley, which could see 8-10\" overnight.

During the day on Friday, resorts will pick up 3-6\" of extra snow (potential for up to 10\" at Sun Valley), keeping conditions soft all day. Winds will not be exceptionally strong, so resorts will likely be able to open their upper lifts. Snow density will be on the dense side especially Friday with cooler conditions on Saturday 

Friday night will bring 3-6\" of more snow to the Tetons and 5-9\" for Schweitzer, Sun Valley, and Silver Mountain in Idaho. Lingering snow on Saturday morning should add a bit more snow, but no major accumulation.

Colorado

Colorado is in for an active pattern towards the end of the week heading into the weekend. Again, this snow will be unusually thick and heavy from the warm temperatures. Moisture arrives on Friday from the west. Resorts may pick up a few inches during the day, especially at Steamboat, Powderhorn, and San Juan resorts. 

Friday night will bring solid totals around the state, making for fresh turns on Saturday morning:

  • Steamboat: 7-12”
  • Northern CO/I70: 1-4”
  • Central CO: 2-5” (6-10” at Crested Butte and Monarch)
  • Southern CO: 5-10”

Precipitation will decrease during the day on Saturday but should still bring a few inches to resorts. Saturday night will bring light accumulations to the central and northern mountains but 4-6” totals for southern CO. That new snow on top of the existing storm total could make for sweet skiing and riding conditions on Sunday!

PNW

Moisture from the major system impacting the west coast will hit the Pacific Northwest on Thursday night. Warm temperatures mean this snow will be on the heavier side. This initial surge of moisture will mainly affect the southern Cascades. On Thursday night, Crystal and White Pass are looking at 4-8”, with Mt. Hood looking at 6-10”, and Mission Ridge 9-15”. I like Mission Ridge as a chase target for Friday, since its higher elevation should give it some really nice snow. 

Friday will bring mild widespread snow across the region, expect 1-4” during the day at regional resorts.

Friday night should bring another 3-6” to resorts across the region, with 6-10” at Mt. Hood. 

Light precipitation will persist for the next several days before another solid surge of moisture could arrive on Sunday night. This is still pretty far out and the models are having trouble with agreement, so for now, hope for a solid storm but expect little!

A second atmospheric river will impact the west early next week bringing additional significant snow totals with a similar path as the weekend storm.

Announcement

Powderchasers is now offering some great apparel, featuring high-quality US-made beanies and sweatshirts. This store will be expanded in the future but we are offering pre-release pricing on some great items. Please check out our store and support us with some Powderchasers gear that supports our site: https://powderchasers.com/store. Also remember that promo code POWDERCHASERS at activation of your Zoleo satellite communicator activates the device for free ($25 savings) ! 

Don't forget to join our Concierge program for custom chase forecasts or donate here.  Our concierge program will provide you custom forecasts to insure you get into the deepest snow (Our chase secrets).  Donations keep our free forecasts going. Members rarely miss the deepest days. 

Follow forecaster and founder @powderchasersteve on Instagram for the latest updates. Follow forecaster @lstone84 on Instagram to track and chase storms all Winter long! 

 

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