- We have partly sunny skies to start Tuesday with highs only in the 20’s. Increasing clouds in the afternoon with the chance for light snow showers by evening. Ridgetop winds increasing to 80+ mph. - Tuesday night into Friday morning warm storm moves in. Snow levels starting as low as 5,000 feet Tuesday night but then rising to 7,000 Wednesday morning, 8,500 by Wednesday evening, and then falling on Thursday below lake level. We could see 2-4+ feet of snow on the mountains above 8,000 feet, but a thicker snow quality. At 7,000 feet we could see 1-3 feet of snow, but with rain in the middle. At lake level, we could see 1-3 inches Tuesday night before a change to rain, and maybe 6-12 inches at the end. High winds with ridgetop gust well in excess of 100 mph. - A cold system working down the coast Friday will continue the snow and falling snow levels. A final wave dropping in Sunday could keep the snow showers going before ending Sunday night. Snow levels as low as 2,000 feet over the weekend. That means we could see 1-3 feet of powdery snow on the mountains Friday-Sunday. - The week of the 18th we may transition into a cold but drier pattern, with inside slider type systems possibly brushing us with light snow. - The week of the 25th we could transition into a completely dry pattern.
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Short Term Forecast
Sorry for the delay on the post today. I was the sickest I can remember in a very long time. Felt ok enough to get out a post this afternoon before I go back for a nap.
Not much change to the forecast over the last few days. We have two low-pressure centers that will move from north of Hawaii towards Northern CA over the next 2 days. That will help to direct a hose of warm moisture at CA with heavy rains and high elevations snow.
The big issue with this storm is the snow levels. We have feet of snow on the ground from all the cold storms the past 10 days. That is going to be filled with and packed down by all the coming rain.
Based on the latest model runs we could see snow levels start out around 5,000 feet this evening. Then rising to around 7,000 feet by Wednesday morning. By Wednesday evening they could rise to around 7,500-8,000 feet. Then Wednesday night they could rise to 8,000-8,500 feet.
Thursday is the hardest day to forecast as colder air moves in as the subtropical jet stream pushes south and cold air from the approaching trough begins to push in. The latest model runs suggest snow levels could start the day at 8,000-8,500 feet, and then could fall as low as 5,000 feet by Thursday evening. They could drop down to 3,000 feet by the end Thursday night.
Mountaintop winds are already gusting to 80+ mph today. They will increase to over 100 mph for Wednesday and Thursday with the strong jet stream over Central CA. So even though it may be snowing above 8,000 feet, the upper mountain lifts could be closed forcing you to ski lower down in the rain. Overall not a good time for skiing Wednesday into Thursday.
Light to moderate precipitation is expected Tuesday night as the storm moves in. Then very heavy rain and high elevation snow Wednesday into Thursday, and continuing into Thursday night.
The latest model runs have a range of 4.5 - 6.5 inches of total precipitation near the crest, with lesser amounts to the east side of the lake and much heavier amounts for the west slope. The GFS and NAM models were the wettest on the latest runs.
As always, snowfall forecasting when snow levels are fluctuating is very tricky.
We could see a few inches at lake level Tuesday night before a change to rain until Thursday afternoon. Then we could see 6-12 inches at the end into Thursday night.
At 7,000 feet we could see 6-18 inches before a change to rain Wednesday afternoon. Then we could see 12-18 inches Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.
At 8,000 feet we have the trickiest forecast. Where it stays all snow we could see 2-4+ feet by Friday morning. Where it switches back and forth to rain in the middle of the storm we could see the low end of the forecast.
Above 9,000 feet, which only a few mountains have terrain that is up that high, we could see 2.5 - 5+ feet of snow.
Here is a look at the updated snowfall forecast for Tuesday night through Thursday night. Now, all we can do is watch the snow levels through the storm and see what happens...
Colder Weekend Storms:
Another cold trough is going to dig down the West Coast for the weekend. We will see two systems drop down from the Gulf of Alaska over the weekend. These systems will be cold with powdery snow like the storms we were seeing the first 10 days of February. The only difference is that these don't look as strong.
The strong winds could continue Friday as a cold front moves through. Snow levels could drop down to 2,000 feet and then sit between 2,000-3,000 feet through the weekend.
It looks like we could see some heavier snow on Friday with an additional 10-20 inches of snow on the mountains by Saturday morning. Saturday some lighter snow showers could drop another 1-5 inches by Sunday morning. Then a final wave moving through could bring 3-6 inches of snow for Sunday.
Here is the initial snowfall forecast for the weekend.
The cold trough over the West Coast is still forecast to shift east the week of the 18th. That should keep us cold, but with storms dropping down to our east into the Great Basin and the Rockies.
We will have to see if any of the storms brush us with light snow.
Then going into the week of the 25th the trough may continue to move east with a ridge building over the West Coast. That would bring a dry pattern and milder temperatures.
If the MJO continues to progress east towards Africa and the Indian Ocean I think we will see a stormier pattern return the beginning of March.
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