Storm cycle totals are 6-17". Cold air will move into New Mexico later on Thursday through Monday for winter-like conditions. We could see light snow on Friday afternoon of 1-5" in the northern mountains to tee up Saturday for soft turns. We then look to March 30th for the next possible storm.
Short Term Forecast
On Thursday morning we say farewell to the storm cycle which has ended but more winter-like conditions are on their way through the weekend.
The Sangres and Jemez remain cloaked in dark clouds and moist air early Thursday, which will give way to partly sunny skies and much colder and drier air as a cold front moves through later this afternoon.
The final phase of the storm on Wednesday busted some. Still, the 3-day cycle hit most of our forecast expectations and made for some excellent skiing and riding on variable conditions due to wind and dense snow quality.
Here are the final storm cycle totals with the Monday + Tuesday + Wednesday broken out in parenthesis:
- 17” Ski Santa Fe (9" + 8" + 0")
- 14” Taos (6" + 6" + 2")
- 8” Sipapu (3" + 3" + 2")
- 6” Pajarito
- 7-8" Sandia Peak (estimate)
- 1" Ski Apache (estimate)
After my first run at Ski Santa Fe on Wednesday I had to change the title of my post from "silk" to "buffed powder." The even warmer temperatures overnight Tuesday combined with stronger winds gave the fresh snow a denser buffed quality than Tuesday's snow.
You could still surf the snow on Wednesday but it was tricky conditions. The steeps around Big Rocks, Richard's Run, and Columbine Meadows are still skiing the best I have seen in years with most of the usual rocks and obstacles covered in deep snowpack.
Meanwhile, at Taos on Wednesday we had an 87 mph wind gust in the early afternoon on Kachina Peak and 60 mph gusts on Highline Ridge which kept a lot of the hiking terrain closed. Wednesday's winds were from the west and southwest, so the leeward northeast and east-facing rope drops at Taos should have really nice wind-loaded turns on Thursday.
The heavy wet snow and strong winds have triggered an avalanche warning in northern New Mexico. See the Taos Avalanche Center for the latest warnings, forecasts, and conditions in the backcountry.
For a bit of housekeeping on this end, here is the "keep me honest" report for the March 20-23 cycle.
The warm temperatures were the primary culprit to not reaching the higher end of the forecast range at some mountains. Taos had over 2" of liquid precipitation with this storm which would normally be 20+" of snow but we had high density snow-to-liquid ratios closer to 6:1.
And on Wednesday, temperatures were so mild that the atmosphere couldn't quite convert the southwest winds and moisture into the 6-12" of snow in the northern Sangres that we expected (2" totals on Wednesday).
Two Cold Fronts Coming Thursday through Monday
A first blast of cold air will come later on Thursday afternoon and a second is expected to cross the state late Sunday into Monday. As a result, the high temperatures Friday through Monday will be in the low teens above 10,500 feet. It will feel and look like winter.
As far as snowfall, we could see some very light snow flurries on Thursday afternoon as the front passes through. Then on Friday afternoon, a weak disturbance could bring 1-5" of fluffy snow to the northern mountains.
This could tee up Saturday morning for soft turns and maybe a low-end powder day.
Another disturbance on Sunday will cross to our north and might miss the Land of Enchantment but if it can trend further south we could see light snow in the far northern mountains.
We should have a dry lull from March 27-29.
Then I am eyeing a storm around March 30th.
The more extended models show a quiet start to April, which can change, but let's hope this March 30th storm delivers to keep the spring snowpack strong going into April.
Thanks for reading!
I will post again on Friday to see how the Friday afternoon snow is trending.
Avalanche Warning is in Effect! Check Taos Avalanche Center for all of your backcountry forecasts
Always consult TAC for the latest avalanche forecasts!
New Mexico Geography Key
→ Red River, Taos Ski Valley (north side of northern mountains - Sangre de Cristos)
→ Angel Fire (northeast side of northern mountains - Sangre de Cristos)
→ Sipapu (middle of the northern mountains - Sangre de Cristos)
→ Ski Santa Fe (south side of the northern mountains - Sangre de Cristos)
→ Pajarito (southwest side of the northern mountains - Jemez)
→ Sandia Peak (Sandias)
→ Mt. Taylor backcountry (San Mateos)
→ Ski Apache (Sacramentos)
→ Ski Cloudcroft (Sacramentos)