Chase Powder Daily Snow

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By Powderchaser Steve, Forecaster Posted 3 months ago December 3, 2023

WET SNORKEL ALERT- GETING DEEPER BUT WETTER.

Summary

The epic storm has thus far dropped 10-20 inches in the Cascades, and up to 18 inches in the Wasatch, with resorts in Colorado reporting 9-12 inches. The heaviest dump is yet to come! Snorkel Alert is hoisted, but bring 2 pairs since the transition will be dry to wet.

Update

I had no idea where to chase this morning. The deepest snow was in the Cottonwoods, with 14 inches Friday night. Areas north, including Powder Mountain were also deep (13 inches). Beaver had 9-11 inches. Winds in the upper elevations of Snowbird were gusting in the 70s all night. The crowd factor would be high in the Cottonwoods, and the open areas in the northern Wasatch (Snowbasin). The decision was tough. 

My main decision to avoid the deepest resorts (LCC) was wind (The Bird remained closed until around 10:30 or 11:00 AM when the tram opened. I heard that Alta had good conditions from my trustworthy friend Jay Goldberg, Winds were not as much of a factor at Alta and it was deep (I can't snowboard at Alta and those skiers reading this love that).  

Winds are a much higher factor at the Bird, and the new tram is pretty finicky. Also, Snowbird has very limited terrain open. Limited terrain also existed in BCC. 

I decided to skin at Beaver where it continued to snow all morning. Conditions were pristine, almost too deep for the flatter sections, but great on the lower steeper face just above the ticket office. I skinned up without crowds and enjoyed the local vibes. Beaver is not spinning lifts yet. A guy was standing in shorts in the parking lot looking to rent skis! WTF.  I gave him the bad news that the resort was to open. Was he looking to rent pants also? 

Below: @powderchasersteve via Instagram Saturday morning at Beaver Mountain with my track behind me. My first faceshots of the season (I was in Morocco for the other storms). These felt good. 

Below: Beaver has a new webcam that is well-protected from wind. I found it to be very accurate. 

The PNW was very deep on Saturday. Looking at telemetry here are a few totals

Baker -18 inches as of Saturday morning 

Stevens- 24 inches as of 5 PM PST.

White Pass- 21 inches

Mission Ridge- 12 inches (We are happy eastern sections are getting some precipitation. 

Bachelor:  16 inches

Whistler- 7 inches as of Saturday morning

PNW Chase? 

* Another 2-3 inches of moisture for Oregon with rapid warming (5-7,000 foot snow levels) Sunday (Snow changing to rain). Significant moisture through Monday night with warming. 

*Another 1-2 inches of moisture in Washington (Central Cascades favored with less at Crystal)

* Warming will approach the southern mountains (White Pass, Crystal) on Sunday morning. Central areas near Stevens and to a slightly lesser extent Snoqualmie have cooler inland winds keeping snow levels around 4,000 until Sunday afternoon (Rapid warming late). Baker stays generally a bit colder but snow levels creep up to 4,000 feet Sunday. The snowfall will favor the central Cascades on Saturday/Sunday in Washington.  

* AVY danger will rise significantly with all the new snow and warming temps.

I would stay out of the Backcountry on Sunday unless you are lucky enough to catch some turns before it warms up. If chasing powder get out of Oregon and head north where it is a bit cooler early. Not much is open yet but that will hopefully change soon with all the new snow. 

Idaho/Wyoming/Utah/Colorado 

Western Idaho scored 14 inches (Brundage) as moisture stayed north of Sun Valley. Sun Valley benefits with S or SE winds (Not a typical zonal pattern, but could be very beneficial with Sierra Storms that push from the south). This was not a storm pattern for Ketchum.

Below: Current radar highlighting Boise area mountains, Wasatch Range, and the Central Panhandle of Idaho as of Saturday evening. This will all spread into Colorado after midnight. 

Colorado totals seem to be in the 6-12 inch range (In my forecast or a Tad higher). One big surprise was Telluride who scored deep powder on Saturday morning (I completely missed this). The Tetons nabbed 7-11 inches and more is on the way (Snowing at press time but decreasing Saturday night). 

Below: Alta was deep on Saturday!  Photo: @jmosends via Instagram. 18 inches by noon Saturday. 

Below: Telluride scored 16 inches.  NW flow is often fantastic for that range of mountains. The storm on Friday was from the SW and benefitted Aspen. Today Telluride reaped some colder air and NW winds which is often beneficial for that box canyon (Funnels moisture from the NW direction). I was surprised to see that much moisture make it south. 

Below: Keystone had 10 inches (Cam was cleared with 4 Saturday morning and crept up during the day)

Where to chase in the Rockies? That is not an easy answer. 

As of 7 PM Mountain time, the models are very bullish for another 2-4 inches for the Tetons (4-5 fell from 3 PM to 6 PM). Some areas from the late PM snow and winds might refresh for Sunday.  Winds are strong but will decrease on Sunday. Temps stay colder in the Tetons versus Utah where there is a more distinct warming. Winds will increase avalanche danger! 

In Utah, the new snowfall in the higher peaks of the Wasatch will be an additional 12-24 inches! These numbers seem uniform for both northern and southern zones. I think Powder Mountain might end up with some of the deeper totals, in addition to the Cottonwoods. PCMR will see less snow (9-14). Sundance even is showing up on the models! Very strong winds overnight into Sunday morning will decrease by PM. Likely, the tram at Snowbird will not run on Sunday, and if it does, late AM or at some point PM. This will be a very deep wave! Most resorts will be expanding terrain considerably next week! Winds will still be strong Sunday morning until early PM (30-50 at the Bird Sunday versus 60-75 overnight Saturday). 

The Cottonwoods might not be a great chase but then again some resorts have quite a bit of terrain open now. With all the wind and warming temps Sunday (Upside Down), the Backcountry will only continue to increase AVY danger. Choose a lower-elevation resort for wind-protected snow or low angle if venturing outside the boundaries. Maybe Beaver Backcountry is a good call (A bit low angle for the amount of new snow Saturday night).

Other options at your own risk! Powder Mountain low-angle Backcountry? PCMR openings, Solitude, Snowbasin (Deep). Honestly, there is no answer right now with limited terrain and the strong winds. Let's see what Alta opens. LCC will be a mess and I plan to avoid it. 

In Colorado the models are bullish for a strong wave to hit late Saturday to Sunday morning,  I am optimistic for double digits for Steamboat, Summit County, Eagle County (Vail), and perhaps Aspen and Irwin Lodge (Wildcards). 

Below: Epic Saturday night to Sunday snowfall totals. Utah will be the winner with 20-25 inches (Perhaps higher amounts) in a wide range of mountains favored by W, NW flow. Park City can do well on the Canyons side but less snow is likely further towards PC, and DV. In Colorado, highlights include Steamboat, Summit County, Vail, and even some decent totals showing up near WP, Eldora, and Berthoud Pass. Many Colorado resorts will score 9-15 additional inches. 

Timing: Big wave Saturday night and early Sunday (UT and CO).  This wave just passed the Tetons Saturday evening.  A final wave moves through the Tetons Sunday midday to evening (4-8 additional) and provides another moderate wave of snow for Utah and Colorado by Monday morning.

Monday might end up being a sneak-up powder day in the Tetons, Wasatch, and Colorado with moist NW flow continuing. The Cottonwoods, Vail Pass, and Steamboat would be the ones to watch for this final wave (Late Sunday). 

There is too much to talk about. It will be deep! It will be windy. It is warming on Sunday so snow quality will be denser (Great for base building). The end result will be taking some areas of the PNW and Rockies from near 0 to hero in just 3 days. Some resort totals will exceed 40 inches by Monday (Friday to Monday). 

Powderchaser Steve - Send pics on Instagram Messenger @powderchasersteve 

Stay safe!  I still don't know where I will be chasing, but even if I knew would likely not disclose it. 

See the OpenSnow video on my double life as a storm chaser.

https://opensnow.com/news/post/never-enough-the-double-life-of-a-powderchaser

Powderchaser Steve 

About Our Forecaster

Powderchaser Steve

Forecaster

Powderchaser Steve has over 45 years of experience chasing storms based on his weather and local knowledge of resorts on both the East and West Coasts. His snow intel will likely land him at the deepest resort and almost never missing "First Chair" in the process. Follow "The Chase" on OpenSnow to find out where the deepest snow may be falling.

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