British Columbia Daily Snow
By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 2 months ago December 5, 2023
A storm loaded with subtropical moisture will bring rain to most ski areas in BC on Tuesday, while the upper portions of Revelstoke & Kicking Horse will continue to see heavy/wet snow. Colder air arrives Wed with rain changing to snow across the Interior. A colder storm will then reach Southern BC on Thurs, but uncertainty exists in the storm track with Fernie looking most favored for now.
Short Term Forecast
- Heavy rain will impact most ski areas on Tuesday with snow levels spiking across the Interior, and gradually lowering to Whistler mid-mountain on Tuesday PM.
- The upper half of Revelstoke and Kicking Horse will pick up an additional 7-20 cm on wet snow on Tuesday-Tuesday night.
- A cold front will slowly move across BC on Wednesday & Wednesday night with lingering moisture and snowfall favoring the Interior.
- A colder storm on Thursday will favor the Southern Interior (especially Fernie), but uncertainty still exists in the storm track and snow potential for some areas.
- A cold storm with low snow levels is likely on Saturday (Dec 9th).
Many ski resorts did pick up some new snow on Monday before the spike in snow levels occurred. Whistler picked up 12 cm (5") at mid-mountain before changing over to rain. The summit weather station reported temps right around freezing overnight, so snow levels likely ranged from 1800-1950 meters (6-6.5k feet).
Across the Interior, Fernie picked up 13 cm (5") of snow but freezing levels have since risen to around 2100 meters (7k feet), which is equivalent to the summit of Polar Peak.
Revelstoke is reporting 22 cm (9") of new snow on Tuesday morning, and Kicking Horse 11 cm (4"). Snow levels appear to be around 1500-1800 meters (5-6k feet) at these resorts.
Short Term Forecast - Big Picture:
A warm storm involving an atmospheric river will continue to impact Southern BC on Tuesday with the core of the moisture plume located across the Interior.
On Wednesday, a cold front will slowly work its way from northwest to southeast across Southern BC, and this front will interact with lingering moisture across the Interior to result in a change-over to snow for interior resorts as snow levels begin to drop.
On Thursday, another storm will slide into Southern BC from the west/southwest and will bring snow to some areas, but models are in poor agreement on the storm track so there is some uncertainty – especially across Southwest BC which looks to be right on the fringe.
The good news about Thursday's storm is that colder air will be in place, and thus snow levels will be lower with ski resorts seeing snow rather than rain.
Let's dive into the details by region...
Coast Range and Whistler:
The heaviest precipitation will shift eastward on Tuesday with a decrease in precipitation rates at Whistler, while the North Shore region will continue to see heavy rain. All areas will see a further decrease on Tuesday night.
Snow levels reached their peak at Whistler on Tuesday night and will gradually lower over the course of the day on Tuesday, eventually reaching mid-mountain (1500 meters/5k feet or lower) by Tuesday evening. The upper portion of the mountain (mainly above 1800 meters/6k feet) will pick up 5-10 cm of wet snow on Tuesday.
Wednesday is looking dry at this point as a much colder airmass takes hold. Conditions will likely be icy on the slopes, and groomers will be your best bet.
On Thursday, a storm will move into Southern BC, but confidence is low on whether or not the storm will make it far enough north and west into the Coast Range, or if the trajectory of the storm shifts eastward before it reaches Vancouver and Whistler.
There are higher-end scenarios (such as what the European Model is suggesting), where moisture does reach Southwest BC in which case we could be looking at decent snow totals across the North Shore Mountains and as far north as Whistler. But there are also scenarios involving a total miss.
Eastern portions of the Coast Range such as Manning Park will likely have the best chance of picking up snow from this storm, but even that isn't a given yet.
Interior and Powder Highway:
Heavy rain and high-elevation snow will impact the Interior on Tuesday as the core of an atmospheric river will be situated across the area.
Snow levels will be highest across the Southern Interior on Tuesday, ranging from 1800-2100+ meters (6-7k+ feet) from Big White to Red Mountain to Fernie, resulting in rain up to ski resort summits.
Further north, snow levels will range from 1500-1800 meters (5-6k feet), which is close to mid-mountain at Revelstoke and Kicking Horse. But these are the only two ski areas that are likely to avoid rain on its upper slopes.
These areas will receive heavy, wet snow accumulations on its upper slopes. I'm expecting an additional 10-20 cm (4-8") at Kicking Horse as the moisture plume will favor eastern areas while Revelstoke will see another 7-15 cm (3-6").
On Wednesday, a cold front will slowly work its way across the Interior with snow levels lowering from west/northwest to east/southeast. By Wednesday night/Thursday morning, snow levels will be approaching the bases of the southeastern-most resorts including Kimberley and Fernie.
Snow totals from Wednesday to Wednesday night will favor southern and eastern areas the most. I'll go with 10-20 cm (4-8") at Whitewater, 7-17 cm (3-7") at Kicking Horse, and 5-12 cm (2-5") at Revelstoke, Big White, Red Mountain, and Fernie.
On Thursday, the next storm will move into Southern BC from the south before taking on more of a west-to-east storm motion and swinging across the southern portion of the province. Models are still not in good agreement on the exact storm track, so confidence isn't great.
Fernie looks best positioned to see moderate to heavy snow from Thursday's storm, with greater uncertainty elsewhere (and even Fernie isn't a total slam dunk yet).
My early call on Thursday snow totals are 10-20 cm (4-8") at Fernie with lighter totals elsewhere, in part due to the uncertainty of the storm track. Thursday and Friday could both end up being powder days at Fernie, with the caveat that terrain is limited and early season snowpack is below average. I would target Thursday PM or Friday AM for the best conditions.
The good news is that much colder air will be in place on Thursday, so whoever gets snow will see low snow levels.
Here is my early call on 3-day snow totals across the Interior:
And here is my daily breakdown, for 24-hour periods ending at 4-5 a.m. each morning:
Keep in mind that Thursday's snow forecast is likely to change over the coming days as we get closer.
Most areas should see a break on Friday, then the next storm will arrive on Saturday (Dec 9th). This storm is expected to impact all major regions of BC and cold air in place will result in snow levels. So far, it looks like a decent storm in terms of snowfall.
Heading into the week of December 10th, the latest models are starting to trend toward a ridge of high pressure building in from the south, which may result in fewer/weaker storms and warmer temperatures across Southern BC, at least for a few days.
Longer range models are hinting that the pattern could turn more active again around mid-month.
Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Wednesday (December 6).
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