Deep totals have been reported across the Okanagan/Western Interior & portions of the Coast Range on Wed AM, and since the early morning reports, snowfall rates have picked up substantially over the Powder Highway. Snow will favor the Interior for the rest of Wed, while Southeast BC (Fernie to Whitewater) will see a second wave Wed night thru Thursday.
Short Term Forecast
Preliminary Snow Totals (as of 5am Wednesday):
This has been a great storm for Southern BC so far with deep snow totals adding up, and cold air has resulted in good snow quality with high snow-to-liquid ratios.
Keep in mind that reported snowfall so far is as of early Wednesday morning, and many areas that saw little to no snow overnight are now receiving heavy snow as of this writing on midday Wednesday. Also, several areas are not reporting snowfall yet this season.
So far, the Okanagan region has been the big winner with deep totals being reported at ski resorts throughout this region. Mid-level winds shifted to a strong southerly flow (out of the south) overnight, and this likely helped to "bypass" the rain shadow effect that often occurs in a more westerly flow. High snow-to-liquid ratios helped as well.
The only disappointment so far has been Cypress Mountain, where snowfall is coming in lower than I forecasted. Totals are much higher further east in the North Shore Mountains, including Grouse Mountain and especially Mt. Seymour.
Here are the preliminary snow totals from early Wednesday morning:
- 35 cm (14") - Silver Star
- 33 cm (13") - Mt. Seymour
- 26 cm (10") - Whistler
- 25 cm (10") - Sun Peaks
- 25 cm (10") - Red Mountain
- 24 cm (10") - Big White
- 21 cm (8") - Grouse Mountain
- 18 cm (7") - Apex
- 8 cm (3") - Revelstoke
- 5 cm (2") - Fernie
- 5 cm (2") - Cypress Mountain
Here is a snow stake cam shot from Whistler early on Wednesday morning, who is enjoying a nice powder day.
The snow stake cam at Big White also looks really good on Wednesday morning:
Forecast for Wednesday - Thursday:
Snow has continued to fall across the Coast Range on Wednesday morning, but is starting to taper off as of midday. Additional snow showers/flurries will remain possible into the afternoon and evening, but additional accumulations will be light.
Coast Range ski resorts from Whistler to the North Shore appear to have picked up anywhere from a trace to 10 cm (trace-4") of new snow since early Wednesday AM reports. Snow could persist a bit longer around Manning Park and Coquihalla Pass where 8-15 cm (3-6") of new snow beyond Wed AM reports can be expected.
Across the Interior, snowfall rates have picked up substantially across the Powder Highway on Wednesday morning since early morning reports were published. Revelstoke's "Gnorm the Powder Gnome" is quickly becoming buried as the day progresses.
Snow will continue throughout the Powder Highway region during the day on Wednesday, while snow is beginning to taper off across the Okanagan region (where heavy snow fell overnight). Snow will taper off to flurries across the Northern Powder Highway from Revelstoke to Kicking Horse on Wednesday night.
However, confidence is increasing that a second wave of snow will move into the Southeast Interior from Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon, delivering additional heavy snow accumulations from Whitewater to Fernie. This pattern looks especially favorable for Fernie.
Here is my forecast for additional snow amounts across the Interior from Wednesday morning through Friday morning, including what has already accumulated since early Wednesday AM snow reports.
And here is a graphical snow projection from a blend of weather models. I think northern areas from Revelstoke to Kicking Horse will do a bit better than this model blend suggests, partly because the model assumes a 10:1 snow-liquid ratio, whereas snow-liquid ratios will actually be around 15:1 due to cold air in place.
The Okanagan region is seeing its big powder day on Wednesday, albeit with gusty winds and poor travel conditions. Thursday will be a fun day of skiing throughout the Interior – the deepest conditions will be in the Southern Interior, where most resorts are not open yet, but this will set the stage for a fun opening day at Fernie on Saturday.
A weak storm will reach Southern BC in the Friday AM To Saturday AM timeframe (Dec 2nd-3rd), but models are in poor agreement on the storm track and associated impacts even though we're only a few days out. The main uncertainty has to do with whether or not moisture makes it far enough inland to bring snow to the Interior.
For now, I'll go with a general early snow forecast of 5-15 cm (2-6") for the Coast Range of Southwest BC and anywhere from zero to 10 cm (0-4") for the Interior. Snow levels will remain very low with whatever snow does fall.
The pattern for the week of Sunday, December 4 through Sunday, December 11 will relax a bit compared to the previous week, but the door will remain open for weak storms to arrive on a relatively frequent basis. In terms of timing, models are all over the place so I have no confidence whatsoever about when individual storms will occur.
Temperatures are expected to remain below average based on good consistency from the European and Canadian Models. The American GFS Model has recently trended toward a somewhat warmer pattern, but this model is an outlier so I think it's a less likely solution for now.
Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Thursday (Dec 1).