- Get your spring break on for Monday. Sunny, highs in the 40s!
- Next chance for snow will be on Wednesday, a couple of inches
- More snowfall likely Friday night through Saturday
- Outlook shows an unfavorable weather pattern for early Feb
- Still, most mountains are 100% open
- Book recommendation for powder skiers
It'll be t-shirt and shorts skiing today, on Monday, as morning temperatures at many mid-mountain weather stations are already warmer than freezing, and the forecast high temperatures should be in the 40s. The only thing separating today from a typical warm March ski day will be the sun angle, so it won't feel quite as warm as Spring Break 2015 (!!!), but it'll be close.
Tuesday will be similar to Monday, just with a few more clouds and with temperatures a few notches cooler.
The big story over the next 48 hours will be a blizzard along the northeast coast. Check out the snow forecast below for the time period between Monday morning and Wednesday morning. Yes, that's 15-30 inches from New York City through most of CT, RI, and MA, including Boston. Most of the major ski areas in New England will miss the brunt of this storm, but should still get decent snow. And temperatures will be chilly during the storm, so I think there will be legitimate powder skiing on the right coast. Good for them! I remember growing up in eastern Pennsylvania and had no clue what to do with the 30 inches of snow that fell at Shawnee Mt during the blizzard of March 1993. I think my skis were about 50mm underfoot at the time...
Snow forecast from Monday morning through Wednesday evening. Source: NWS
Back home here in Colorado, you'll notice that the map above does show some snow for our state. This will come from a weak storm that's currently west of the Baja Peninsula and will slowly meander northward into the United States and then will get caught up on the west-to-east flow and be pushed to the east.
Wednesday: We'll see a nice surge of moisture on Tuesday night through Wednesday, but with weak energy and warm temperatures (snow level 7,500-8,500ft), I'm only expecting that we will generate a few inches of snow from this system. The best chance for snow should be Wednesday midday through evening when the winds blow from the west and northwest. Central and northern Colorado is favored. This storm will have a lot of moisture, and when this happens there's always a chance for higher-than-forecasted snow amounts if there storm's energy is a bit stronger than predicted. My expectations are low, but I'd love a surprise.
Thursday and Friday: Looks dry with temperatures closer to normal (highs around 30F).
Friday night through Sunday morning: Another storm around Baja / northern Mexico will push north into the United States. At the same time a storm will move south from Canada and head to the east coast, just clipping northern and eastern Colorado. We'll be in between these two systems, and it'll be interesting to see how (if) they play off of each other. One possibility is that they don't interact, most of the moisture stays south of Colorado, and perhaps the southern mountains see a bit of snow and most of us stay dry. Another possibility is that these storms do interact, a lot of moisture is pulled north into Colorado, and the southern mountains get a healthy amount of powder while some snow falls across the other mountains. At this point, just keep an eye on Saturday and I hope that we'll be able to pin things down over the next day or two.
Outlook for early February: Like a broken record, I'll say again that it doesn't look good. The pattern of a cold and stormy trough in the east and a warm and dry ridge in the west is anchored in and likely won't shift without a fight. All models do show some storms pushing through the western ridge in early February, but the odds are against us seeing significant snow from these storms. If things work out just right, maybe we will get a dump, but that's a big bonus in my mind and not a situation to which I ascribe a high probability.
Again, just for everyone's sanity that may not be a mountain local, I do want to say that most of our ski areas are 100% open, so even though there has not been much fresh snow during January, there is still plenty of terrain to ski.
If you're looking for something to do until the powder returns, think about reading the newly released book by Dr. Jim Steenburgh "Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth". For more details, head on over to my book review here: http://opsw.co/15KTdSk. If you like reading my updates all winter, I bet you'll love this book. Jim is just as addicted to powder as we are, and as a professor of meteorology, his knowledge of mountain weather is unmatched. This is not a technical book (no equations!) and should be on the bookshelf (or Kindle) of any powder skier that wants to understand where the best skiing is across the globe and some of the science behind our sport.
That's all, folks. See you Tuesday morning and I hope to have better news to share about Saturday's storm, and I will include some pictures from the east-coast blizzard if things truly do get interesting over there.