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By Powderchaser Steve, Forecaster Posted 2 months ago December 10, 2023

Deep and Wet PNW, Alaska Is Going Off-High Pressure For The West


It's snowing heavily in the central and northern Cascades of Washington with temps rising. The Rockies are scoring terrain openings, especially WY, UT, and Colorado. PMW moisture moves over Idaho and Wyoming and to some extent southern MT. Alaska is getting crushed.

Short Term Forecast

Per my last forecast for the PNW, significant totals are building up, especially in upper elevations of areas near Stevens Pass, Baker, and the I-90 corridor. Cold air from the eastern side of the Cascades has kept temps on the cooler side while Baker is benefiting a bit from its northerly influence. Warmer air will be moving in by daybreak Sunday with heavy snow continuing at mid and upper locations while rain is likely below 5000 feet. Avalanche danger will be rising significantly (Wet snow and upside down). I might avoid this storm TBH, even though it is deep. Quality will be pure cream. 

Below: Colder air was noted overnight Saturday on I-90 and Stevens Pass with some cold air in the interior (Eastern sections) of Washington keeping snow versus rain above 3500 feet. Warming will occur before daybreak. 

Below: Stevens Pass as of 2 AM scored 15 inches near Pass Level (Last Chair Saturday would have been best). Temps are rising as of 4 AM to just above freezing. Notice the temperature spike from 25-32 in just 3 hours. Temps will continue to rise on Sunday, however, it might continue to snow at upper elevations. Alpental and Snoqualmie have similar totals. 

Below: Similar situation for Mt Baker with deep wet snow (18 inches in 24 hours). Temps are above freezing as of 4 AM. 

Below: Stevens Pass webcam early Sunday morning (4 AM). 

Elsewhere in the West, Saturday saw some epic turns, especially in Colorado and Utah with many deep openings. Highlands opened up on Saturday with deep powder including the Bowl. Snowbird finally popped the upper Peruvian Gultch (Chip's side only) with very good powder (Cold). Powder Mountain opened up the Timberline Lift on Saturday. Vail also popped some ropes. Sunday will see additional openings. Bottom Line: get it now with all the new snow from the past few days and cold temps (Preservation). Things are shaping up nicely in many areas choosing wisely for resorts that saw the most snow in the past 2-3 days. 

Below: @powderchasersteve scoring the opening of Peruvian on Saturday at Snowbird. 

The storm in the PNW will take a northerly route bringing light to moderate snow for the McCall area resorts as well as the panhandle on the MT border (Warmer). This will drag into the Tetons over the next 48 hours with several periods of light or moderate snow. At this point, nothing looks overly deep in any 12 hours but it's possible the Tetons grab 2-5 inches Sunday and another 2-5 into Monday. Southern Montana gets grazed with higher amounts possibly near Glacier National Park.

Below: Additional snowfall for western Idaho on Sunday (Light or moderate amounts) extending into the Tetons during the day. Scraps eventually move east and could kick off some light snow showers into northern Colorado at some point Sunday night (Far northern areas near Steamboat). 

Below: Total additional moisture skirting north of Utah focussed on the Tetons and extreme northern areas of Colorado through Monday afternoon. 1/2   inch of moisture for the Tetons could sneak out 5-10 inches over the next 24-36 hours. Map ending Monday late PM. Southern Montana might see a bit of snow. No single deep dump with decent refreshes. 

If you want some deep snow, head to Alaska for 1-2 feet for the backcountry zones near Thompson Pass and 10-15 inches for Alyeska in the next 3 days. Temps start very cold and rise Monday night to Wednesday with some upside-down pow, but reasonable temps for all snow from just above the bases. 

Below: Total snowfall hammering the ranges of Alaska near Anchorage extending out to Valdez. 

Extended Forecast

In looking ahead, high pressure dominates the western US for much of the upcoming week. There is a weak system that might slide into Arizona and New Mexico on Wednesday (Taos could score some light snow midweek)

Below: Map Wednesday morning. 


Below: High pressue continuing in the west towards the end of the week. There is a low noted off the coast of California that might move ashore at some point next weekend (fingers crossed). 

I'm out the door! Stay safe with my next update likely Monday. Be aware of the upside down snow in the PNW.

Powderchaser Steve 

About Our Forecaster

Powderchaser Steve


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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