Chase Powder Daily Snow
By Powderchaser Steve, Forecaster Posted 4 months ago October 9, 2023
You can chase amazing peak colors this week in the west with a strong cold front and the first significant snowfall likely for some areas of the west. Photo Tour- peak colors. This will all end midweek with snowfall for the west especially in Colorado.
Short Term Forecast
The chase for fall colors continues in the Rockies with many areas peaking currently in the 6-7K ranges. I chased fall from the Tetons over a week ago through Utah and finally Colorado for Saturday. I returned to Park City on Sunday with brilliant yellows (Peak yellows) at the Park City Ski area, Guardsman Pass, and to some extent just above the base of Solitude. Chase Now- Peak hitting lower elevations.
In the Pacific Northwest areas around Snoqualmie Pass were near peak last weekend. Seattle hit 80 degrees on Saturday (Well above normal). Some light snow is likely over the higher peaks of the Cascades early this week (Oregon and Washington).
I was at the Maroon Bells near Aspen at 6 AM last Monday (October 2nd) where upper elevations were peak. Currently, the town of Aspen, and especially the base of Snowmass is lit up in brilliant yellow and slightly past peak above the bases. Chase Now lower elevations in the roaring fork valley.
Below: October 2nd saw the Maroon Bells and upper elevations around Aspen Peaking. The sun peaked out for a few minutes after standing in the rain. Photo: @powderchasersteve via Instagram
Below: October 8th on Guardsman Pass in Park City saw brilliant yellows. Photo: @powderchasersteve on Instagram. Chase now!
Upper elevations of most ski areas in the Rockies are now beyond peak including the higher elevations of I-70 and the San Juan Range. Reports from Alpine Wyoming yesterday (Sunday) were very good. My assumption is that Sun Valley is also near or just beyond.
A sharp cold front (Storm #2 for the season) is going to push into the west midweek and bring some significant snowfall for the Northern Rockies. Colorado may end up as a winner.
Below: Cold air enters the PNW early this week and drags over the Northern Rockies midweek. The map is from early Wednesday into late Thursday. Extreme southern areas including the Sierra are on the warmer side of this front. The PNW will see some high-elevation snow.
A cold front reaches Wyoming and Utah by Mid Wednesday with peak snowfall Mid to late Wednesday afternoon into Thursday. Snow levels will lower to below the bases late Wednesday into Thursday with the first chain law likely for the Cottonwoods for Thursday morning. The models indicate 5-8 inches are likely for the upper Cottonwoods, with 2-4 inches for the summits around Park City (Canyons side is favored with NW flow) and further north towards Powder Mountain or Beaver. This might be a photographer's dream for Snowliage.
Amounts look a bit less for the Tetons and southern Montana with higher amounts noted east of the Divide in Wyoming (Big Horn range) and a bullseye over northern Colorado (Along or north of I-70). It's possible that the higher elevations around Steamboat see 5-10 inches by late Thursday with rain/snow beginning Wednesday. Fall colors will fade and leaves will be falling after this event.
Below: Total Moisture through Thursday morning with the PNW getting very wet early this week (Snow at the summits near 6-7K). Even Northern California (Mt Shasta) is likely to see some snow this week. In the Rockies, the focus is on northern Utah, central or eastern Montana, and Wyoming. For Colorado, it's possible they grab higher snow totals with healthy moisture aimed at the northern areas. Colder air is also noted near Cheyenne (Front range near the WY/CO border).
Below: Total snowfall through Thursday is going to be elevation-dependent. Some significant amounts could fall in Colorado with moderate totals in Wyoming and perhaps higher peaks in Montana. The PNW will also see some snow early this week (WA/OR) with lower amounts. Snow levels could drop as low as 7000 feet in enhanced precipitation.
Below: University of Utah proprietary models for the Alta Ski area based on just 1 model (GFS). 10 inches might be possible at Collins.; I would lean more conservatively in the 4-8 inch range above 8500 feet (Wednesday to Thursday) and up to 10 inches at the peaks.
Below: University of Utah ensembles (Multiple model tweaks) showing 3-7 inches for Vail Pass primarily late Wednesday to Thursday. as the cold air enters the region. Winds from the NW are a good set up for most of central and northern Colorado.
Enjoy the chase for colors, snow, and snowliage this week. Thanks for following the chase forecast. Winter is around the corner.
You can follow my latest photography (Foliage, Bears, nature) on Instagram @powderchasersteve