Chase Powder Daily Snow

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By Powderchaser Steve, Forecaster Posted 1 month ago February 24, 2024

The Snow Gods Will Deliver! 2 Large Storms With Feet and Feet Of Pow

Summary

The PNW will see the deepest totals of the season and bring them back from the dead in 7 days! The Rockies score decent totals, with the Sierra possibly on tap for multiple feet in the extended. This will be the most active period for the West we have seen in a long time. Canada will also score. There is a lot to talk about.

Short Term Forecast

PNW

For those chasing powder, many variables should be considered before heading out. Strong wind, avalanche danger, and what will open along with the current low snowpack (PNW). I will try to sort some of these flags out. 

A broad trough will overspread the west beginning Saturday in the PNW and crank out 2 feet plus by late Sunday night. Strong winds will overspread the west with the initial and warmer phase of the system on Sunday in the PNW before a significant plunge of cold air due Sunday evening to Monday. The wind will ease in the PNW by Monday morning continuing at a moderate clip. Monday or Tuesday terrain openings might be epic. 

The initial surge on Saturday night to Sunday afternoon will favor BC, Northern Washington (Baker), and eventually spread south over the I-90 Corridor (Alpental). Snow levels near 3500 feet will bring some decent totals as early as Sunday morning to far northern Washington and most of western BC.  Arctic air follows late Sunday to Monday with a wind shift spreading decent totals south through Oregon (Northern resorts favored) and eventually the Sierra. This arctic air will spread widespread high-quality powder to many areas Sunday night. 

Bottom Line PNW 

* Chase Northern Resorts in Washington on Sunday Morning, including Whistler (7-9), with extreme storm ski conditions noted for Washington (8-15). Snow intensity might exceed 2 inches per hour. Snow levels, mainly around 3,000-3500 feet.  Focus on I-90 resorts, Stevens Pass, and areas to the north. 

* Winds will be gusting in the 50s with likely lift impacts Sunday. This could pose risks in the chase!  

* Colder air moves in Sunday evening plunging temps and snow levels (Pure blower) for additional snowfall favoring  Washington and Oregon. The southern Washington Cascades should see 7-12, with areas of northern Oregon scoring higher amounts. Snow will continue for Stevens Pass and I-90 resorts under a convergence zone. 

* Pass closures are at 75% or higher in my estimate, especially Sunday evening or Monday morning with avalanche control. 

* Widespread storm totals in the 20-28 inch range possible, especially the central and northern Washington Cascade ranges in Washington

* Conditions are very variable at some resorts, especially in lower elevations (That is about to change). 

Below: Snowfall in the PNW from Sunday morning to Monday night starting up north and moving south. The highest totals are in the northern and central WA Cascades with decent totals for Oregon also. Ride Sunday morning to Monday morning (Strong winds Sunday). 

Sierra:

Models have flip-flopped over the past few days and seem to be uptrending moisture spreading south from Oregon on Monday with anywhere from 5-10 inches for the mountain ranges. One model shows an excess of 12 inches on the Sierra Crest, but it might be a bit too bullish. Don't skip the extended. 

Below: Total snowfall per the National Blend model through Tuesday

Rockies/Idaho

While the PNW grabs the highest snow totals, decent amounts will overspread Idaho (Panhandle, Western areas near McCall, Stanley) from Sunday night to Monday with 12 plus inches. Northern Montana is highlighted near Glacier National Park with a bit less noted for Whitefish (Moderate totals) and MT Snowbowl.

 The Tetons will begin to fire on Monday with storm skiing and strong winds (Gusts in the 50's). Double digits are possible by late Monday evening in the Tetons (7-11). The models seem to push higher totals just north of Teton Pass, perhaps Targhee or closer to Moose Junction so confidence in totals needs to be ironed out. 

The snow quality will be on the denser side initially in all areas as 70% of the totals fall with warmer air followed by the sharp cold front bringing blower back to both Idaho and the Tetons later Monday/Tuesday. Once the cold front passes snow intensity will quickly decrease (Tuesday will offer some additional higher-quality powder for the Tetons, but not expecting big overnight numbers). 

Utah may grab slightly better timing for overnight snow from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning. currently, it is likely that nearly an inch of water falls in the Cottonwoods (12-17) during this period with 6-12 inches for the Park City ranges. This storm has strong winds Monday afternoon through the night before decreasing for Tuesday. With warmer temps initially, strong winds, followed by bitter cold light-density smoke, it's hard to predict what the surface will ride like. It's either going to be a sink to a frozen wet layer or on the other hand land hero snow for Tuesday topped with feathers. Temperature drops of 20-30 degrees in a short period can sometimes create frozen layers. I think it's worth the gamble. It will be bitter cold by Tuesday morning. 

Below: There is still model divergence between the operational GFS and Euro so I decided to pull up the shorter-term NAM 12 that I have decent confidence in. This model shows just over an inch of water for the Tetons and most of northern Utah (Ogden areas mountains to the Cottonwoods) Higher totals are noted in the Uinta Range of Utah and further east into a few areas of Colorado (More below). 

Finally, in Colorado, the models are up ticking water totals for Crested Butte, Flat Tops (Rangley area north of Rifle) extending into Steamboat. High totals are also showing up for Rocky Mountain National Park northwest of Boulder. SW flow initially with the warm moist air Monday night to Tuesday morning will favor the southern and central mountains. Areas near Wolf Creek are on the southern edge but could do well. The models are not confident in a solution. 

Below: Short-term NAM showing decent totals in the southern San Juan Range, Central mountains (Crested Butte), and extending north into Summit County and the northern Front Range. This is a complicated forecast with winds from the SW (Better for southern and central areas) switching to the NW with colder temps Tuesday late AM (Good for I-70, Vail Pass, Steamboat) and northerly winds noted over the Front Range (RMNP). Confidence is low currently. 

Bottom Line Colorado: 

Very warm temps will be evident with 75% of the moisture Monday night (Dense snow). The timing is ripe for some overnight dumps for powder on Tuesday morning. Very cold air does not reach Colorado until late Tuesday morning with a wind shift to the NW. SW flow initially could land some surprises in Summit County before the wind shifts to the NW. My deepest prediction might be for CB. Confidence is going to have to wait. 

Extended Forecast

With so much going on for the short term I will broad brush the extended. 

Very significant snow totals are once again showing up for the Cascades and Idaho mid-next week. Several feet of additional snow is likely. Decent totals are also showing up for Whistler. Moderate snow will be falling in the interior of BC.  Snow levels are rising from nearly 0 feet to 3,000 midweek including in Canada. For the Rockies, there is better confidence beyond this range as snow from the Sierra late next week might push east. Northern Montana could fare well mid-next week also. 

The Sierra is lighting up in a BIG WAY, for a 3-5 foot storm possible towards the end of next week. Likely going to be the biggest storm of the year. 

Below: 4-day snow totals from Thursday February 29 to Sunday March 3rd. 


That was a lot to talk about!  Did you get through it? You can check out my participation on the weekly OpenSnow Flakes Podcast here. https://opensnow.com/news/post/busy-storm-cycle-the-flakes-podcast

This Podcast airs on OpenSnow every Monday (Recorded weekly). 

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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