Some snow has fallen in the last day or so, in the Northwest, which is nice. But it was really warm and raining mid mountain and down at most locations followed by a sharp cold front and heavy low density snow. This may not make for the best conditions today and tomorrow, but it's better than nothing. After dropping a bit more low density snow in Washington, and some impressive totals in NW Montana and Northern Idaho, this upper level disturbance will continue to move downstream. The elongation of the trough will allow snowfall to spread through Colorado and New Mexico as well. After that there will be a chance for two more similar storms, although they don't look as strong at the moment. Sadly, this pattern keeps the snow out of Utah and California, and only moderate totals elsewhere.
It has been a while since the Western US has had even a decent storm, so we will take what we can get. Additional snowfall, especially at Alpental, who is closed today, should make for some good turns tomorrow morning. The focus will then shift to Northern Idaho and Northwest Montana. Outside of Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain, and Teton Pass (MT), this event won't impact ski resorts too much. These ski areas will see 3-7\ but up to a foot is possible at upper elevations through Tuesday. Light to moderate snow will fall over most of Montana as well, with 2-4\" likely.
Things get a little more exciting midweek as this storm tracks through the Intermountain West. As the upper level trough moves through, it first elongates as a piece of energy breaks off from the main branch. This will send a somewhat stronger surge of moisture toward SW Colorado and Northern New Mexico Tuesday through Thursday. Wolf Creek will actually be pretty deep on Wednesday, for those who like to chase there. In total, expect 16-22\" at Wolf and 12-18 for Taos, where Wednesday is shaping up to be a pretty decent day as well. Telluride, Purgatory, and most of the San Juans will receive a much needed refresh too, with backcountry conditions improving. Below are projected snowfall totals through Thursday, which includes part of what fell last night in the Washington Cascades.
(Image courtesy of Weastherbell)
As we previously mentioned, the next week will feature a similar setup, with progressive continental systems moving through the PNW and the front side of the rockies.
(Image courtesy of Tropical Tidbits)
The setup typically does not produce huge storms. As is the case with the current wave, if some energy can break off, higher totals can move further into the heart of the West. The track can also shift a bit, bringing the Tetons and Wasatch more into the picture as well. Unfortunately though, we don't see any troughs moving in from the Pacific Ocean, which usually carry with them much higher moisture content and thus lead to bigger storms. This inland track is bad news for the Sierra, and often for Utah and Western Wyoming as well. We will be watching the models with these next couple storms for shifts or signs of strengthening. It wasn't until the last few days that the models picked up on the strengthening system and started increasing snow totals, so let's hope that happens again.
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Since we are currently chasing in the Austrian Alps, that will do it for tonight. Here is a picture from today at Zauchensee, from @lstone84 on Instagram. Hopefully we'll be swimming in powder there tomorrow.