The Chase team left the Sierra yesterday after 3 epic days at Squaw Valley. That has changed with strong winds and limited operations currently at most resorts. Another several feet of snow may still fall tonight especially from the south lake through to Mono County (Mammoth will be buried). Chase points in the next 2 days can include the Tetons, southern Idaho, Wasatch, and any resort in the 4 corners over the next 24 hours favored by SW flow (Wolf Creek, Silverton, Durango, Powderhorn, AZ Snowbowl. Telluride has scored even with SW flow (Prefers NW) and web cams show moderate snow falling currently (Had 12 last night) A surprise dump south of the Great Salt Lake brought 15-25 inches of blower that were not in the forecast to the Cottonwoods yesterday! None of the models depicted the orographics that allowed NW flow and cold air to stall over the Cottonwoods last night and Saturday (The folks that were up there grabbed a huge bonus). "I think if you are chasing to the Sierra things will begin to spin perhaps by late Monday afternoon with diminishing winds and a ton of avalanche mitigation at many resorts (You may be waiting around most of the day but once terrain opens your wait may payoff). I think that resorts in the southern Sierra will have to wait until Tuesday to begin opening any decent terrain?
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Short Term Forecast
Snow is falling over most of northern Utah this evening as well as southern Idaho and the Tetons. Moisture is streaming into Grand Junction and extending as far north as Steamboat and directly south towards Telluride. Tonights models show heavy snow favoring the northern Wasatch especially from Ogden up through Logan (Beaver Mountain), and southern Idaho. Moisture is spilling as far north as the Tetons with 2 inches in the past few hours near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Resort chases for Monday morning will include resorts from the Tetons (Jackson is favored over Targhee), Northern Wasatch (Snowbasin, Beaver, Brighton, Solitude, Deer Valley, and most of Park City with the exception of the old Canyons side who prefers NW flow). Deepest totals tonight will come just south of the Tetons (Models trending lower for areas north of Alpine), into southeast Idaho (Pocatello, Idaho Falls), Logan Utah-Beaver, and perhaps over the Ogden Valley who does well with SW flow. 1st chair Monday might be money in these areas. Jackson is our wildcard as moisture will be hard to nail down as it's really close but perhaps south along Alpine versus north into Jackson. I would expect 4-8 inches however higher amounts are possible.
Snow will also intensify over the 4 corners late tonight or early Monday. Expect highest amounts from Telluride north into perhaps Silverton, Powderhorn, Aspen, and Crested Butte (4-8) tonight. Models show snow increasing in the Southern zones (Durango, Wolf Creek) during the early hours and cranking out 6-12 inches by last chair Monday (Storm ski). Taos should earn light to moderate amounts Monday with a higher trend for Tuesday with westerly flow. 1st chair Tuesday will also be deep in the San Juans.
The trick in the Wasatch will be to score 1st chair perhaps near Park City or Deer Valley (Brighton and Solitude are wildcards who do well with SW flow), Beaver, Snowbasin, Powder and zoom down to the central wasatch for the late morning or early afternoon. Winds will be very strong in the Cottonwoods (Lift delays) before a cold front moves in mid to late morning. Heavy snow will be falling over the central and southern wasatch in the late morning through early evening (9-15). Last chair in most resorts especially in the Cottonwoods will be a score.
Here is a look at the total snowfall expected through Wednesday below. Image: WX Bell
Light moisture will continue in northern Utah Monday night so Tuesday morning may score another powder day including new openings from closed terrain on Monday. Winds shift in Colorado to the West with the passage of a cold front mid to late day Monday. Moderate snow will be falling in many areas of the central and northern Mountains Monday PM through Tuesday. My picks for chase would include Steamboat, Beaver Creek, Monarch, Aspen and perhaps the I-70 corridor for Monday night or Tuesday. Everyone gets into the action however deeper amounts might focus near Steamboat before teasing the resorts near the Front Range (Isolated heavy bands of snow will set up in Summit however I-70 may report high variability by Tuesday morning). The 4 corners especially Taos seem to do well Tuesday morning under west flow.
High Pressure sinks in towards the end of the week with long range ensembles showing a ridge in the west. A stormy pattern may be over the East! That ridge may break down beginning February 3rd and focus more attention in the Pacific Northwest? Thats too far out to have reliability at this point.
Image: WX Bell- Ensembles GFA for February 3rd
Drive safely everyone! High winds in the past several days have created very unstable conditions in many spots of the west. Please "Know before you go" if you are venturing into the backcountry. If you have any questions for the Chase Forecast please post a comment and I will do my best to respond. I take no responsibility for the Skunk, powder Flu, or ending up at the wrong resort. Its never a perfect science but I do my best to get you into the White Room
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