This article originally appeared on by Powderchase Steve.


Models have come in stronger with the Sierra storm this weekend and early next week with 3-5 feet likely for mid elevations by Monday.  5-7 feet may fall at the summits! It’s a warm storm initially for California that turns to high-quality late Saturday-Tuesday. The North Cascades and BC score a foot or more Friday/Saturday.  The Rockies look good Sunday-Tuesday with the highest amounts in the south-central mountains of Colorado, Wasatch of Utah, Tetons, and Sawtooths of Idaho.

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Short Term Forecast

I’m going to essentially broadcast this forecast from what is processing in my chase ideas for the upcoming 5 days.  It’s going to be in a slightly different format.

California looks the deepest of any area with a solid push of 2 feet of snow Saturday night into Sunday. I like the overnight snow!  I don’t like the temperatures (6500-7,000 snow levels) initially Friday night (Dense). Cold air Saturday will bring heavier snow to the bases (5,000) so conditions could improve significantly by late AM or PM.  My suspicion is that terrain is delayed Saturday morning, so if the lighter density comes in early enough Saturday, then late morning or early afternoon may deliver the frosting effect (Light coating of pow on the dense smooth surface below).  Stick to higher elevation resorts like Mount Rose, Diamond Peak, Kirkwood, and Mammoth in the south. Mammoth is likely to see the highest amounts of this initial storm (3 feet plus). Winds may be an issue at times Saturday morning before decreasing.  Snow quality is going to best above 7500 feet. Upper summits at many ski areas will remain closed on Saturday.

Below: Warm initially in the Sierra through Saturday morning.

Below: Cold air works into the Sierra beginning Saturday mid-morning through the late part of the weekend and early next week (Map- Monday AM)

Below: 5-7 inches of liquid precipitation through Monday in the Sierra (40-70 inches of snow at the highest peaks of the Sierra (Some of these high totals are outside the ski areas on the Sierra Crest).

Snow continues light to moderate Sunday in the Sierra (No solid break but decreasing intensity) and picks up again PM Sunday to early Monday.  Significant accumulations are expected during this period. Monday will offer a deep day for much of the Sierra! Lake Level snow will be significant.

Other chase ideas?  I like the prospects of heading to BC or the northern WA Cascades Friday/Saturday. Cool air will bring snow levels to 4,000 feet in the Cascades (Bases) with 8-14 inches likely through the period.  Further south will see less snow. Additional light to moderate snow is likely Sunday or Monday (Scattered precip early next week). The northern Panhandle of Idaho also looks good primarily Saturday/Sunday (6-11). Montana reaps the rewards Sunday with a northerly wind and models pushing decent moisture into Big Sky and Bridger.  Whitefish is also in the mix for Sunday.

Below: The northern Cascades of WA in the 12-15 inch range by late Saturday.

The first CA storm drags significant snowfall south into the 4 corners this weekend.  Arizona, Southern Utah, and Southern Colorado will see decent snow for Sunday (snowing in Colorado). Moisture with S or SW winds will push north into the Wasatch and Tetons late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

The moisture from the Cascades will also push east towards central and southern Idaho at the same time period (Separate system broken off from the main event).  Idaho looks to get somewhat deep late Saturday (PM Chairs) and early Sunday favoring the Sawtooths (Sun Valley) and perhaps Brundage. The Teton models differ on the Euro and GFS.  One shows more moisture north towards Yellowstone and the other puts a bullseye over Jackson. It’s likely that JHMR or Targhee report 6-12 inches for Sunday morning (JHMR is favored with this wind direction).  Higher amounts may fall north into Yellowstone. Additional snow will be falling Sunday.

The Wasatch will grab similar amounts for Sunday morning (6-11).  The models are not in synch for positioning. It’s likely the northern Wasatch (Snowbasin), perhaps Beaver Mountain (Idaho border) sneak out higher amounts than the south.  The Cottonwoods would be close especially BCC near Solitude. Park City, Deer Valley (Wasatch Back) and the Uinta range are in good scoring position with this wind direction.  While models and winds favor these areas BCC and the Northern Wasatch, Little Cottonwood will still see decent amounts. Snow will continue to fall at times Sunday adding slightly to my totals above.  Additional moderate snowfall is likely Monday and Tuesday bringing storm totals to the 2-3 foot range by early next week in Utah.

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Extended Forecast

Another push of moisture with colder air will ramp up the Sierra for Sunday/Monday.  That system looks to bring good odds for deep snow for Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.  Moisture increases in the Rockies Monday PM and Tuesday with significant amounts likely in most of the intermountain west. The 4 corners, Wasatch or Tetons may end up seeing the deepest amount initially into early Tuesday (Storm totals from Sunday to Tuesday in the 2-3 foot range).  Winds shift to the west Tuesday late AM through Wednesday so snow pushes north into Aspen, Crested Butte, Steamboat and the western sections of I-70. Late Tuesday and Wednesday may offer a final chase to many areas of Colorado. Somewhere will be deep!

Enjoy the chases! Powderchaser Steve

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