This article was originally posted on OpenSnow.com by Powderchaser Steve.
Lots of buzz is flying around the web on snow totals for the Northwest this week. It’s only October so any news of 7-10 feet of snow is headline news. Most of that will be falling above the summits of most Ski Areas in the PNW. The week ahead has flip flopping snow levels with colder temps towards the end of the week. It’s a roller coaster ride this week with snow levels teasing us every 24 hours with snow followed by rain. Upper elevations above most resorts in the Pacific Northwest will be very deep by Sunday!
Short Term Forecast
“The summits of most resorts will pick up moderate snowfall in the Cascades (North and central favored) with perhaps 2 feet or more at Whistler (High elevations) by the end of the week.” Much less will fall over the Cascades. After a break on Wednesday, warm air takes over Thursday followed by cooler conditions and a return of snow to close out the week. If this were mid-winter and I was in chase mode, my only safe bet would be the summit of Whistler into the interior of BC, followed by the peak of Mount Baker Ski area as a wildcard (Wet snow at the summit especially Friday/Saturday).
Snow will be falling today and tonight as colder air works into Whistler and the interior BC mountain ranges. Significant amounts of 9-15 inches are likely at many resort summits of coastal BC working inland tonight and Wednesday. The north cascades near Mount Baker should reap 3-7 inches at the summit with some light or moderate snow falling in the central Cascades (Stevens, Snowqualmie, Alpental). There is a break in the action on Wednesday followed by warmer air and more moisture Wednesday night and Thursday (Very high snow levels with rain likely at most elevations).
Cool air works into the Cascades Thursday night through Friday bringing additional light to moderate snow to the entire Cascade region. Expect several periods of 2-4 inches at mid or upper elevations of most resorts every 12-24 hours Thursday-Saturday before warmer air brings rain back to most elevations of the Pacific Northwest. Total additional snowfall late this week in the Cascades be 5-10 inches at the summits. Snow levels rise significantly this weekend (Rain likely at all elevations).
Below: Significant amounts of moisture aimed at the Pacific Northwest this week!
The leftovers are aimed at the northern Rockies including north/central Idaho, western Wyoming, southern Montana and eventually northern Colorado by late Friday night. A tease is possible for northern Tahoe resorts on Friday (light). Cold air will be over most of Idaho late Thursday night into Friday (Light to moderate snow from Sun Valley (1-3) and resorts north towards Brundage (3-6) and the panhandle). The Tetons (2-5) grab teases Friday followed by a quick blast of snow for most of north/central Colorado (2-4) along and north of I-70. Tahoe stands a decent chance of some light snow especially along or north of Interstate 80 (Wildcard).
Here is a quick look at total snowfall through early Sunday. Most of the deepest sections in the Pacific Northwest will be above the summits of most ski areas with the exception of perhaps Whistler and spots in interior BC.
Extended: High pressure takes hold early next week for most areas. There is a chance of additional moisture moving into the Pacific Northwest mid to late week in the extended period. It’s only October and for those areas not currently getting snowfall it bears no prediction on how things will look in December. Some of my best winters have been those that were dry in the Fall and suddenly nailed back to back 2-3 foot storms. It can happen!
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