We’re more than half way through the season, so let’s look back at the last few months to see what mountains have had the most snow. While I love the east coast (I grew up there), and they’ve been having a fantastic season, I’m going to focus on the Western US.
The season started off with a southern storm track. The first image on December 1st shows that areas in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Utah, and Southern Colorado were reporting 150-200% of average snowfall. Also, Northern Colorado, Eastern Wyoming, and Montana benefited from a separate storm track moving down from Canada, and this area started the season with 100-125% of average snowfall.
As we moved into the New Year, the only areas that saw consistent snow were in Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado. These are the mountains that continued to benefit from the storm track moving south out of Canada. Unfortunately, this left most of the west coast dry, with California, Oregon, and Washington looking at drought conditions.
The good news is that the atmosphere can play fair, and if it withholds snow early in the season, it can give it back later on. This is exactly what happened from late January through mid-February as three “atmospheric river” events impacted the west.
An atmospheric river is a flow of moisture from the tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean that delivers massive amounts of snow and rain to the west coast. This boosted the snow totals from 25% to 50% of average for California and Oregon. It also increased Utah’s snowfall from 75% to 100% of average, and pushed Colorado and Wyoming into record territory with 125-150% of average snow.
A series of storms is now dumping snow on Washington State, and their snowfall has increased from about 50% of average in early February to 80% of average currently. After this storm cycle is over, they might be close to 100%. So where’s the best snow right now? The deepest fresh powder is in Washington and British Columbia, and the base is deep in Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado. For Oregon, Tahoe, the southwestern areas of Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Utah and Southern Colorado, a big late season is needed to get back to average, but I’m hopeful the atmosphere will play fair for this region as we head into springtime.