British Columbia Daily Snow

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By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 1 month ago February 23, 2024

Snowy Pattern Begins this Weekend

Summary

A storm will begin to impact Northern BC on Friday, then snow will spread southward on Saturday favoring the Northern Interior (Revy, KH) initially. More widespread and heavy snow will take hold across Southern BC from Saturday night through Sunday with the Interior favored for the deepest totals. Most areas see a break Mon, then a series of strong/cold storms will bring more snow to Southern BC.

Short Term Forecast

Forecast for Friday to Monday:

A strong storm cycle remains on track for the weekend with colder air to follow on Monday. The storm has trended a little bit weaker for the Coast Range and Whistler (further north storm track and less favorable wind direction) but still looks really good across the Interior.

Two main storms are a part of this cycle, the first of which will impact Northern BC on Friday and the Interior/Powder Highway region on Friday night and Saturday.

The second stronger storm will impact all of Southern BC and much of Central and Northeast BC on Saturday night and Sunday.

Coast Range & Whistler:

Friday – Dry conditions will prevail during the day with a mix of sun and clouds early giving way to increasing clouds in the afternoon. Winds will also become brisk in the afternoon out of the west/southwest. Freezing levels will be around 1200-1350 meters (4-4.5k feet). 

Saturday – Moisture will arrive from the west/northwest on Saturday with light snow/rain showers developing during the daytime hours. Snow levels will range from 900-1200 meters (3-4k feet) and winds will be gusty in Whistler's alpine terrain.

I'm not expecting much snowfall during the day on Saturday as many areas will see a rain/snow mix, while west/northwest flow is not favorable for Whistler to see much precipitation. 

Saturday Night – The second stronger storm will arrive overnight with snowfall rates picking up late in the night and snow levels gradually lowering to 900 meters (3k feet) by first thing Sunday morning.

Sunday-Sunday Night – Heavy snow will fall during the first half of the day with snow levels ranging from 750-900 meters (2.5-3k feet). Winds will also be very strong with gusts to 80-100 km/hour in Whistler's alpine terrain.

A strong cold front will arrive on Sunday afternoon with snow levels quickly dropping below ski resort base areas. Heavy snow will fall initially along/behind the front, but then conditions will begin to dry out on Sunday evening. Snow levels will drop to near sea level by the time snow tapers off.

Snow Totals – Snowfall amounts will be light/variable through the end of the day on Saturday, then most areas including Whistler, the North Shore Resorts, and Sasquatch Mountain will pick up 10-20 cm (4-8") of new snow from Saturday night through Sunday. 

Winds aloft out of the west/southwest are not the most favorable for deep snow totals at Whistler, but we will have some strong storm dynamics at least.

The east side of the Coast Range including Manning Park and Coquihalla Pass will see deeper snow totals, ranging from 15-35 cm (6-14").

On Vancouver Island, snowfall will be lighter at Mt. Washington (trace-5 cm) as westerly winds will be less favorable, while Mt. Cain will pick up 10-20 cm (4-8") on the northern part of the island. 

Skiing Conditions – I would target Monday morning for the best conditions once new snow has added up, temperatures have trended colder, and winds have trended lighter (after being very strong on Sunday). Conditions are only going to get better in the days to follow with stronger storms in a more favorable southwest flow expected.

Travel – Sunday afternoon/evening looks like a rough travel period due to heavy snow, strong winds, and lowering snow levels which means snow will accumulate on the roads in the valleys late in the event, and icing on the roads will also occur as temperatures plummet.

Interior & Powder Highway:

Friday – We will see a mix of sun and clouds during the day with winds becoming gusty out the west/southwest during the afternoon in alpine terrain. High temps of -1º to -2ºC can be expected at ski resort mid-mountain elevations.

Friday Night-Saturday – The first of two storms will arrive via west/northwest winds aloft, with snow picking up across the Northern Interior (Revy, KH) initially before gradually spreading southward across the remainder of the Interior during the day on Saturday.

Snow levels will range from 750-1050 meters (2.5-3.5k feet) across northern areas (Sun Peaks, Revy, KH) and 900-1200 meters (3-4k feet) across southern areas. Winds will also become strong across the higher terrain with gusts to 70-90 km/hour in the afternoon.

I'm expecting Revelstoke and Kicking Horse to see the highest snow totals (5-15 cm or so) with this first round through Saturday afternoon, with low to medium-density snow quality across the higher terrain.

Saturday Night – We will see a lull in between storms on Saturday evening, then the second stronger storm will arrive later Saturday night with snow picking back up after midnight. Western areas (especially the Okanagan resorts) will see the highest totals initially with this next round on Saturday night.

Sunday-Sunday Night – Widespread heavy snow and gusty winds can be expected throughout the Interior with the focus of heaviest snowfall shifting from the Okanagan resorts eastward into the Powder Highway region. 

Winds will become very strong across higher elevation alpine terrain with gusts of 80-110 km/hour possible in the afternoon. This may impact lift operations in some areas. 

Snow levels will not change much during the daytime hours Sunday (compared to what we see Saturday), but a strong cold front will arrive early Sunday evening with snow levels plummeting to valley bottoms behind the front.

A period of intense snow is likely with the frontal passage on Sunday evening (as snow levels drop), then we will see drying behind the front later on Sunday night. 

Snow quality on Sunday looks a little bit denser compared to Saturday due to higher winds, but the last few centimeters or so will come in lower density as the cold front passes through. 

Monday – A break in the pattern is expected with much colder temperatures. High temps will be around -10ºC at most ski resorts, but winds will also be much lighter.

Snow Totals – I have not made many adjustments to my snow forecast since yesterday. Things are still looking good throughout Southern BC. 

Here is my total snow forecast through Monday AM:

Here is my snow forecast breakdown across the two main periods of snow (Friday night-Saturday, and Saturday night-Sunday night):

Here is a projection from a blend of weather models:

Skiing Conditions – Saturday and Sunday will be storm skiing days with Sunday featuring "more severe" conditions in terms of wind and visibility. Revelstoke and Kicking Horse will start to fill in first on Saturday with other areas catching up on Sunday.

I still think Monday will offer the best and deepest conditions once colder air arrives and winds are lighter. A break in the action is expected on Monday, so head out early for the deepest conditions.

Travel – Rogers Pass will see deteriorating conditions by Saturday morning with the most severe conditions then expected from Sunday morning through Monday morning (and of that, Sunday evening looks worst as the cold front moves through).

Kootenay Pass will see moderate impacts on Saturday with more severe impacts from Sunday morning through Monday morning (Sunday evening being the worst).

Valley roads will see their worst impacts from Sunday evening through Monday morning as the cold front moves through and temperatures (and snow levels) plummet behind the front, resulting in icing on the roads.

Northern BC:

Shames Mountain and Powder King will finally see some good snow in this pattern, and snow levels will also stay low throughout the cycle.

The first storm will move through on Friday-Friday night, and the second on Saturday-Saturday night with lingering snow across the Northern Interior (Rockies, Cariboos, Powder King) on Sunday.

The latest trend since my last post has been to drop snow totals slightly around Shames Mountain and bump up snow totals across the Northern Interior.

Three-day snow totals from Friday AM to Monday AM will range from 25-30 cm (6-12") at Shames Mountain and 25-50 cm (10-20"). Hudson Bay Mountain will pick up 2-8 cm (1-3"). The Northern Coast Range, Northern Rockies, and Cariboos will receive significant totals with moderate totals for the Skeena Range.

Temperatures will be cold in this pattern and snow quality will be very good as a result.

Extended Forecast

Following a break in the pattern on Monday, a cold and active southwest flow pattern will set up with storms deepening across the Gulf of Alaska and then swinging across Southern BC. This pattern is looking very promising across all of Southern BC, and Whistler and the Coast Range in particular are likely to see deep totals add up over time.

The first storm in this pattern is likely to arrive on Tuesday (Feb 27) and into Wednesday (snow likely holding off until Tuesday night/Wednesday for the Interior). Additional storms are then likely on a near daily basis through next Saturday (March 2). 

While we will see day-to-day temperature fluctuations in this pattern, snow levels are expected to stay low overall, at or below the bases of most ski resorts in both the Coast Range and the Interior. 

This looks like it will be the best pattern of the season for BC in terms of storm strength, frequency, and temperatures/snow levels.

While Southern BC looks most favored in this pattern, Northern BC should catch frequent freshies on the northern edge of the storm track as well.

Looking further out, we may see a break in the strong storms around Sunday (March 3). Heading into the week of March 4th, an active pattern is likely to resume with perhaps weaker storms compared to the week prior, but frequent refreshes and seasonally cool temps are projected among all of the major models.

Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Saturday (Feb 24).

Alan Smith 

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Alan Smith

Meteorologist

Alan Smith received a B.S. in Meteorology from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has been working in the private sector since 2013. When he’s not watching the weather from the office, Alan loves to spend time outdoors skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, and of course keeping an eye on the sky for weather changes while recreating.

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