Chase Powder Daily Snow
By Powderchaser Steve, Forecaster Posted 2 months ago December 5, 2023
There are 3 systems to watch. The first will come into the PNW as early as Tuesday night dragging some light snow into the Rockies and even the northern Sierra by Thursday The 2nd system will increase snowfall totals in the PNW Thursday providing the Rockies and perhaps the Sierra better odds. Deeper snow hits the PNW Saturday/Sunday with colder temps. There are chases!
Short Term Forecast
Below: NWS in Boulder issued this broadcast yesterday- 49 inches at Rabbit Ears Pass fell on the last storm near Steamboat. WOO HOO
Chase Powder Forecast
It continues to rain in the Pacific Northwest with snow levels as high as 8,000 feet. What a mess, after such a deep storm last week. The rain will not melt off the snowpack, but will certainly put a dent in the total numbers. Snow returns to the PNW this week with 3 phases I am watching. The first is an isolated wave of moisture hung up over Mt Baker late Tuesday night to Wednesday with a cooling trend. This could kick off some light snow for Baker by Wednesday morning ending the drenching rains. Better storms for the PNW late this week into early next.
Below: 43 degrees at 5K feet at Mt Baker on Tuesday morning with up to 5 inches of rain noted since the last snowfall. Ouch! More snow is on the way in the forecast but I am not sure how much damage has been done.
A stronger system is likely for the PNW Thursday that drags south and east over western Idaho, northern Montana, Western Wyoming, and the Idaho Panhandle. This system has colder temps and should bring base-level snowfall to many areas. In the PNW, Oregon or southern Washington seem a bit favored
The Sierra will grab leftovers on Thursday and again on Friday. This will favor Mt Shasta with decaying moisture hitting the northern Tahoe Basin Wednesday and Thursday (3-7 inches). Mt Shasta will see higher totals.
Below: Low pressure pushing onshore in the PNW Wednesday/Thursday dragging moisture south into Oregon with leftovers aimed at the Sierra. Idaho, northern Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, see pieces of energy this week as multiple waves of light to moderate moisture enter the west.
Below: Cold air is most prominent in the west late Thursday to Friday pushing as far south as the Lake Tahoe Basin. Snow totals might be the highest with the better ratios associated with the cold front. It seems to favor the southern PNW, Idaho, Wyoming, and perhaps northern Utah initially. A chase to some of these regions is likely possible for Thursday/Friday. I would avoid the PNW until the snow/rain damage heals or for the next significant dump.
Below: Northern California will finally grab some light to moderate snow through Friday with 2 waves. Shasta might see higher totals. The southern Sierra near Mammoth may see less. Snow is Snow. Anything will help.
Below: The cold front advances south into most of Utah and Colorado from late Friday to Saturday. This will likely increase snowfall intensity in these areas to start the weekend. Another weekend storm? Did anyone realize that last season's deepest storms seemed to all revolve around Saturdays?
Below: The low in the PNW tracks south directly over Idaho tracking directly over Utah and Colorado late this week and weekend. The highest snow totals will likely be in northern regions as moisture decreases with the low not having a good moisture tap. My bets are with Idaho, Wyoming, northern Utah, and some wildcards in Colorado near I-70 (Many areas will benefit from this storm). You can see the stronger system just entering the PNW by Saturday morning at the end of this loop. The map is from Friday AM to Saturday AM.
Below: U. U ensembles (Averaging multiple runs of deterministic models aside from the European) showing low confidence (Widely spaced lines) on snow totals in the Tetons from Thursday to Saturday. The range is from 10-25 inches with several waves of moisture beginning late Wednesday night through Saturday. I think this will be a decent storm for the Tetons with the timing of an overnight deep dump unlikely versus several periods of moderate snow split between AM and PM periods. The snowpack is still on the light side, so it will help open up additional terrain.
Below: Maps for Vail Pass showing snowfall possible Friday to Sunday with 5-15 inches likely. There is still low confidence with such a wide array of solutions on these ensembles (Widely spaced lines).
Bottom Line Chase: The PNW cools this week with light to moderate snow likely towards the end of this week The Sierra grabs leftovers (anything is better than nothing). A stronger and colder system is possible Saturday/Sunday in the PNW (Could be deep). The big question is how healed the areas get from the rain currently falling. Also, the snowpack is still low in the PNW but the final push later this weekend might be chase-worthy.
Western Idaho (Brundage, Tam) appears to be in a good position for this next storm Thursday. The Tetons once again are in a scoring position for several periods of light to moderate snow Thursday-Saturday (Getting deeper).
Utah is a wildcard with some models showing light snow on Friday and heavy snowfall on Saturday. Colorado grabs widespread snowfall from Friday-Sunday night with double digits likely as a sum result (Slow build-up) favoring the north/central mountains including Summit County.
Chases TBD. More on a future forecast so stay tuned to my update on Wednesday.
Below: Snowfall totals for the west through Saturday morning at 10:1 (Snow ratios will be higher with colder temps). The interior of BC looks deep, but most of this falls with fairly warm temps confining the deep snow to mid and upper elevations. Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah (Wildcard), and Colorado are strong contenders. PNW fires again late this weekend.
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