Sign In:

×

Last Step!

Please enter your public display name and a secure password.

Plan to post in the forums? Change your default forum handle here!

×
×

California Wakes Up! Sierra to Pull Down 2-3 Feet of POW Next Week

After a seemingly endless stream of atmospheric rivers pounded the Sierra with snow and drought-busting rain last season, we once again see the volatility of mother nature as an extended dry period has returned to much of the western U.S and skiers across multiple states are wondering where the white stuff is here.

But the first signs of change are here, in the form of a moderate storm this weekend followed by a potentially stronger storm next week. Along with high elevation snow, much needed rains will bring some drought relief to the Southwest and four corners regions, which have been exceptionally dry this season. Late next week will likely bring heavy snow back to the northern Rockies as well with the Wasatch finally getting into the action!

Current snow water equivalent percentages (how much water the snow is holding) as of January 4th, 2018 cast a bleak picture. Photo: USDA

SIERRA SNOW

The good news is that the summits of many Sierra resorts will see a moderate storm this weekend with a significant storm likely on its heels by Monday night/Tuesday. There are a few things not working in our favor with the first storm though, as strong winds and unseasonably warm temperatures may limit snowfall and negatively effect snow quality. Warmer than average temperatures will bring high variability of snow totals depending on elevation. It's likely that on Saturday you will be skiing 3-7 inches of wet snow on the summits with minor amounts at lower elevations. The exception may be Mammoth, with a higher base/summit elevation, however the heaviest moisture may stick around North and South Lake Tahoe. Take the lighter amounts and no rain at Mammoth or gamble on higher amounts further north with a rain/snow mix at the bases. It's possible that some resorts exceed the 3-7 inch mark by late Saturday.

Storm #2

On Monday, snow will start falling by the afternoon with snow levels once again at the dreaded 8,000-foot level (above the bases and even mid mountain at many ski resorts). Snow intensity picks up late Monday night into Tuesday morning with perhaps 7-9 inches at upper elevations and slowly falling snow levels. Heavy snow will continue to fall at upper elevations bringing totals to 10-15 inches by the end of the day. Colder air works in Tuesday improving snow quality and driving snow down to the bases. Models are favoring areas in the central and southern Sierra range. My best guess for the highest amounts are Kirkwood and Mammoth. The Mammoth summit may score in excess of 30 inches by the time the storm exits late Tuesday night. Areas further north, and those at lower elevations, will see lower storm totals. Overall amounts should fall into the 15-20 inch range over most of the Sierra above 7,500 feet by late Tuesday with the summit of Mammoth tipping the scales, perhaps approaching 3 feet. Kirkwood may also see these higher amounts.

The total predicted precipitation for The Sierra through Tuesday. Photo: Courtesy of Weather Bell

All of this welcome moisture heads towards to the 4 corners mid next week.

The good news for many resorts that have seen little snow this season is that the middle of next week will bring at least a foot of snow to southern Colorado, northern Arizona and southern Utah. Moderate moisture will stream north into the central and southern Wasatch near Salt Lake. A cold front and northern branch of the jet will likely kick off decent snows in the northern Rockies with Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming reporting decent numbers in the middle of next week as well as renewed snowfall along the front range near Denver.

The Four Corners may finally get some relief. Photo: Courtesy of Weather Bell

Long Range:

The ridge returns following the 2-3 storms next week, but then the storm door reopens perhaps focusing on the PNW once again, especially during the January 17-21 period. Whether the storm door stays open after this round of snow remains the biggest unknown at this point, and may go a long way in determining whether winter can really make a comeback in the West.

Powderchaser Steve

Play
READ THE STORY
In Between Chemo & a Double Mastectomy, This Woman Went Skiing…A Lot
Up Next Ski

In Between Chemo & a Double Mastectomy, This Woman Went Skiing…A Lot

In Between Chemo & a Double Mastectomy, This Woman Went Skiing…A Lot

A single drop of blood fell to the snow, making a hollow plop. Halfway up hiking a backcountry run, Dina Mishev stared down at the lone drop of red on white. More blood pooled to the point of her nose. Dina watched as another drop fell, joining the first one on the snow. The blood stared back at her, a reminder of all the reasons why she couldn’t let herself stop climbing. Fresh from her second round of chemo a few days prior, Mishev was actively ignoring the pain, nausea and exhaustion

Play
READ THE STORY
Snowboarder Brock Crouch Suffers Serious Injuries in Whistler Avalanche
Up Next Snowboard

Snowboarder Brock Crouch Suffers Serious Injuries in Whistler Avalanche

Snowboarder Brock Crouch Suffers Serious Injuries in Whistler Avalanche

News broke across social media yesterday that up-and-coming snowboard star Brock Crouch had been seriously injured in a backcountry avalanche Sunday in Whistler, British Columbia while filming with Absinthe Films. So far, there hasn't been much in the way of definitive detail on what happened to the 18-year-old Californian boarder, but according to an Instagram post from his older brother, professional golfer Mike Glennie, Crouch may be lucky just to be alive right now. "Feeling extra

Play
READ THE STORY
Reflecting Back on One of Chamonix’s Best Seasons Ever
Up Next Ski

Reflecting Back on One of Chamonix’s Best Seasons Ever

Reflecting Back on One of Chamonix’s Best Seasons Ever

Ah, the land of croissants and red wine. Chamonix, France is to extreme skiing as Yosemite is to rock climbing, or Pipeline is to surfing. In a nutshell, the legendary mountains surrounding Mont Blanc have drawn the attention of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders looking to ride the biggest lines of their lives. Each year, a veritable pilgrimage of riders convenes in this magical valley in the French Alps to put their alpine skills to the test. So far, the 2017-18 season turned out