IS IT APRIL…OR JANUARY?
Is it April…or January? The seven day snowfall forecast from the GFS (shown below), looks more like mid winter than mid April. Significant snow totals are expected across much of the Western US during the next week as old man winter refuses to let go. Chasing this time of year can be awesome if the temps are right. Most people have given up on skiing/riding so resorts tend to be less crowded. Snow depth often peaks this time of year as well.
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(Image courtesy of Weatherbell)
We have been in, and will continue to be in, a progressive and active pattern in the West. This means that in the upper levels of the atmosphere, things are continuously moving and moving fast. Even if there’s a break in storms due to a ridge, it has been short lived with more storms inbound. The models indicate this should continue for at least another week or so. The last week has been powder filled too, with deep snow in the Wasatch, Tetons, and the Sierra. Check out the shot below (courtesy of our Forecaster Luke – @lstone84 on Instagram) from Snowbasin’s Guest Appreciation Day on Friday. They received 27″ of snow midweek followed be an additional 9″ Thursday night before reopening with 3 feet of untracked snow.
Decent pow days will be possible throughout this week as two storms move into the Western US. The first storm, from Monday-Tuesday, will impact the Northern half of the Western US, while the second storm, from Thursday to Sunday, will track a little further South and bring snow to an even larger area. A lot of resorts have closed for the season, but a few remain open (Epic – Kirkwood/Stevens/Vail, Ikon – Mammoth, Palisades, Solitude to name a few) and there are backcountry options as well. Please have the gear, training, and forecast before heading out. Avalanches can happen in bounds at closed resorts, so be prepared.
Of the two storms, the first is the weaker one. It is a little bit warmer too, so chasing this one might not be the best decision. It will provide a nice refresh however before storm #2. Snow will begin this afternoon in the Northwest and tomorrow in Northern California. Washington and Oregon will see the greatest totals from storm #1, which should fall in the 6-12″ range for the higher elevations.
British Columbia will see similar totals as well. Moving SE, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana will see lesser totals from this event, in the 3-6″ range be Wednesday.
In the Sierra, more snow has fallen in the last few weeks than in the previous few months combined. This will continue with another 6-12″ out of this first storm early in the week.
Storm #2 will arrive right on the heels of the first storm, with not much of a break. This is a stronger storm, with deeper totals expected in the Sierra, and in the Wasatch/Tetons as well. Below is the 5 day downscaled GFS ensemble forecast for Kirkwood. You can see the two storms, with the second one being more substantial.
(Image courtesy of OpenSnow)
There are definitely some solid chases with this event. Southwest Montana will see significant totals too. From Thursday to Saturday, an additional 10-20″ will pile up in the Sierra, 8-16 in the Wasatch/Tetons, with less in Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. While neither of these storms will be quite as cold as many mid winter storms, they should be several degrees below average for this time of year, and cold enough for good density snow at upper elevations. Check out the temperature anomaly at 5k feet for the five days ending April 25th.
(Image courtesy of Weatherbell)
Kirkwood (Thursday/Friday), Snowbird/Solitude (Friday/Saturday), and Big Sky (Friday/Saturday) would be our picks for resort powder later in the week, with Teton Pass in Wyoming offering some deep backcountry turns on Friday and Saturday as well.
In the wake of this storm, a surface low will develop somewhere in the lee of the Rocky Mountains. This could lead to a continue of snow for Montana but the models don’t yet agree on where this low will form.
It looks like winter is trying to make up for the gaping hole that was most of January and February. With the drought conditions facing much of the West (see below), we’ll take any moisture we can get.
(Image courtesy of the National Drought Mitigation Center)
That is all for today. Make your powder plans for later this week, because its not over yet!