Chase Powder Daily Snow

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By Powderchaser Steve, Forecaster Posted 1 month ago February 26, 2024

Widespread Chases Tricky Due to Wind and Timing of a Cold Front.

Summary

The PNW has migrated to a low-density snow overnight Sunday with some lowland snow noted outside the metro areas of Seattle. Snow continues Monday morning in the PNW pushing into Oregon. The Rockies all grab a potent cold front that will kick off rapid cooling and heavy snow squalls Monday-Tuesday.

Update

Thus far snow totals per telemetry appear to be in the 9-16 in range in the PNW. Baker had nearly 16 inches for Sunday and Alpental is currently at similar totals (25% from Sunday). 

Snow continues for the PNW favoring Stevens Pass and the I-90 corridor with a convergence zone with an additional 4-8 inches on Monday. Elsewhere the main action has dropped south towards Oregon where decent totals will ensue. I would chase to the I-90 corridor or Stevens with decent overnight snow (Alpental is deeper). Oregon will also deliver the goods. Baker had a great storm ski day on Sunday (15 inches). 

Below: Additional snowfall on Monday morning is favoring the central and southern Oregon resorts. Snow is continuing over the central Cascades (I-90 corridor) also. 

Below: Bachelor webcam as of 5 AM Monday

A second and very potent system will move into the PNW Tuesday night to Thursday with an additional 12-24 inches. That system starts cold, transitions to warming Wednesday morning (Snow levels 4,000 or higher), and finishes very cold, similar to the last storm (Upside down layer in the middle). I would aim to ride the surf on Wednesday (Warming) and cold blower on Thursday. Canadian resorts should also do well with this system as well as northern Idaho (Schwietzer). 

For the Rockies, the focus is over Idaho on Monday morning (Snowing) with the deepest models showing up near the southern Panhandle on the MT border. McCall area mountains will do well also with 5-10, but the panhandle is likely going to be deeper (9-13). Less snow was noted east to Missoula at the MSB (5-9). 

Below: Snowing at Tamarack on Monday morning. 

The Tetons fire from 11 AM Monday to 11 PM Monday. Very strong winds with gusts in the 60s on Monday will likely keep many upper lifts closed at both Targhee and JHMR. Snow intensity will increase in the afternoon (4-8). Additional snow will fall  Monday night with much colder temps (4-9). Storm totals are likely to be in the 8-16 inch range by Tuesday morning. Most of the action will be Monday afternoon making Tuesday a decent day to catch double digits. 

Finally, the southern Montana resorts could score 5-10 inches (Bridger and Big Sky) late Monday to Tuesday. Cold fronts often bring surprises, especially to Bridger Bowl who can sneak up some decent numbers. 

Elsewhere in the west, Utah scores perfect timing with warm air initially, very strong winds (Tram impacts at Snowbird Monday afternoon), and light snow by noon Monday. Extreme winds are noted in the Wasatch Monday evening (Gusts in the 90's) with snowfall increasing. Cold air arrives near midnight Monday and pushes very heavy snow squalls (2-3 inches per hour) into many areas through Tuesday morning. The models have downtrended slightly and pushed most moisture south of Ogden over the I-80 corridor (PCMR), Wasatch Back, and the Uinta Range (East to the Colorado border). The Cottonwoods will do well also with 9-14 inches likely by 10 AM Tuesday (Mostly falling from midnight to 4 AM). I feel good about PCMR on this one. 

Snow qualities might be variable in the Wasatch with extreme winds Monday evening, strong after midnight, and very light-density snow with the cold front. You might be punching to the bottom layers. If lucky, we get at least 4 inches of heavier-density snow Monday afternoon or evening. Lower-elevation resorts such as PCMR might be a better call. 

Finally, for Colorado and New Mexico, the deepest pow will be found in the southern San Juan Range Monday night into Tuesday morning (12-15) and extending north to Telluride (Widlcard), Silverton, Purg, and Crested Butte. Taos is likely to score 6-10 inches Monday night also. The issue is that this first phase of the storm moving up from the south is warm and the cold air does not hit Colorado until day break Tuesday, primarily up north.

Snow densities in the south will be on the heavier side with snow levels near 8,000 feet. Upper-elevation resorts will ski better. One model showed some hefty numbers at Telluride (I still listed it as a wildcard). Don't expect blower until the cold front arrives, with better action up north on Tuesday. Cold air reaches the southern areas midday as moisture decreases. 

Below: Very cold air just entering the I-70 corridor in Colorado by Tuesday morning (8-9 AM). 

Models are not all in agreement for the northern and central mountains. I have high confidence in deep numbers for Aspen later Monday night into Tuesday. I have moderate confidence for an extreme storm ski day for the I-70 corridor with heavy snow squalls in the morning as the cold front moves over I-70 by 9-10 AM. Vail, Copper, and Breck all are in the hunt as well as other spots along I-70 for some rapidly building snow totals on Tuesday. Snow decreases by late afternoon Tuesday. Snow showers might add up a tad for Wednesday morning.

Short-term high-resolution models are lighting up some decent totals to the north including Steamboat and areas to WP and RMNP Tuesday. 

Below: Short-Term High-Resolution model For Colorado and New Mexico high totals are showing up over Wolf Creek by Tuesday morning as well as the New Mexico border just to the south. Moderate amounts are likely for Taos. Further north some good numbers in the central mountains (CB and Aspen) Monday night with snow squalls quickly ramping up along the I-70 corridor for Eagle and Summit Counties by mid-morning. Steamboat can also score here. There are few losers with this storm aside from the denser snow to the south. Widespread 7-12 inches are possible up north with 12-20 inches in the south. 

Below: Operational GFS model shows higher totals further south for the southern San Juan range extending into Northern New Mexico and Taos. This also includes CB and Aspen. You can see the general highlighted areas here. The High-resolution model above showed some pretty hefty snow squalls along I-70 as well. 

The extended will be deep in the PNW by midweek (Including BC) this weekend and spreads east over the Rockies as moisture weakens. Very significant totals of 3-5 feet are possible for the Sierra with decent amounts possible for the intermountain west by later this weekend. More on that later. 

Below: 4-day snow totals ending next Sunday, March 3rd. The middle of this week into the weekend will be very active. Warming occurs midweek followed by cooling. 

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). 

PCS

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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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