British Columbia Daily Snow
By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 3 months ago November 30, 2023
A series of storms will bring snow to BC over the coming days. The first storm cycle will involve weaker storms initially Thu-Fri, followed by a stronger storm Fri night-Sat. Cold air will result in low snow levels with the deepest totals for the Vancouver North Shore. The next storm will come in a little warmer with mod/heavy snow on Sun, then a significant spike in snow levels occurs Mon-Tue.
Short Term Forecast
Forecast for Thursday to Saturday:
The first series of storms will feature cold air and low snow levels. The storm track will be from WNW to ESE with storm centers passing over the Puget Sound and into Washington initially, before gradually trending northward over time.
Based on recent trends in terms of timing, storm track, and storm strength, I've lowered my snow forecast slightly for this event but it still looks like a decent cycle for some areas.
Snow showers will develop over the Coast Range during the day on Thursday before spreading into the Interior on Thursday night. Snow showers during the day on Friday will give way to heavier snow as a stronger wave moves through Friday night and Saturday.
The Coast Range will see its heaviest snowfall on Friday night, and the Interior during the day on Saturday, with a lull in the action following this main round.
Snow levels will range from 300-600 meters (1k-2k feet) across the Coast Range, meaning this storm cycle will be all-snow for the base of Whistler as well as the North Shore resorts. Snow levels will also be at valley bottoms across the Interior.
Snow Totals and Snow Quality:
The track of this storm cycle across far Southwest BC will favor the Vancouver North Shore Mountains with 25-50 cm (10-20") of snow expected through Saturday PM. Whistler will end up with 10-20 cm (4-8") at mid-mountain but accumulating snow will extend to the base area.
Snow quality will be medium density for the North Shore and mid/lower portion of Whistler, and relatively density and powdery on the upper slopes of Whistler and also for locations east and north of Whistler in the Coast Range.
Here is my forecast:
And here is a projection from the German Model:
Across the Interior, snowfall amounts will be on the lighter side overall, with west/southwest winds aloft favoring Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Whitewater, and Fernie for the highest totals. Snow quality will be dry and powdery throughout the Interior.
The model below assumes a 10:1 snow-liquid ratio, when in reality, snow-liquid ratios will probably be closer to 15:1. In other words, this model is likely underdoing snowfall totals.
Across Northern BC, Shames Mountain should pick up 10-20 cm (4-8") with heavier totals further south toward Bella Coola. The interior ranges of Northern BC will see less snowfall, generally ranging from 2-10 cm (1-4").
Travel – Friday night through Saturday morning will feature the highest impact travel conditions across the Coast Range, while the Interior will see its highest impacts from Saturday morning through Saturday evening. Snow-packed roads and areas of blowing snow/reduced visibility can be expected.
Forecast for Sunday to Sunday Night:
The next storm will arrive on Sunday and it will feature the arrival of an atmospheric river, along with a warm front that will usher in milder air. As the warm moist air encounters the colder air in place, it will be forced to rise and will enhance snowfall rates. However, snow levels will rise over time.
The timing of snowfall from this event looks to be from roughly Sunday morning through early Monday morning.
Snow Levels – They will start out at ski resort base areas and interior valley bottoms, before rising to 900-1,200 meters (3-4k feet) at Whistler with a rain/snow mix expected for the North Shore Resorts. Snow levels will remain at valley bottoms in the Interior on Sunday before rising to 600-900 meters (2-3k feet) on Sunday night.
Snow Totals and Snow Quality – For now, I'm expecting 10-20 cm (4-8") at Whistler's mid to upper mountain, and also 10-20 cm (4-8") for favored Interior resorts including Revelstoke, Whitewater, and Fernie. The rest of the Interior will likely end up in the 5-15 cm (2-6") range.
Keep in mind, we're still a few days out so stay tuned for updated totals moving forward.
Snow quality will trend wetter and denser at Whistler, but the transition will be more gradual across the Interior (going from low-density powder, to "medium density").
Outlook for Monday (Dec 4th) and Beyond:
The next storm is projected to arrive on Monday night-Tuesday, but this storm will involve a more significant surge of warmer air and snow levels are expected to spike as a result.
Currently, our models are projecting snow levels to peak as high as 1500-2100 meters (5-7k feet) across both the Coast Range and the Interior. We are still a ways out, so stay tuned for updates moving forward as we get more dialed on this.
Confidence decreases significantly once we get beyond Tuesday. Additional storms are possible and they may start out on the warm side, but at some point between Wednesday and Friday (Dec 6th-8th), a cold front is likely to move through with falling snow levels, along with the potential for colder storms to follow.
Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Friday (December 1).
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