Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
Week in Review
A poet/author named Henry Van Dyke once said, “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”
Well, in the eastern U.S., we are only talking about a few days between the incredible warming they are presently seeing and the first official day of spring. Spring skiing is in full form right now in the east, and given the ample snow-cover across most of the east, conditions are outstanding. However, if colder weather doesn’t return soon, many eastern ski resorts may be closing earlier than once expected.
In the west, as spring arrives this Friday, many ski resorts in the centraland northern Rockies and Utah will be chirping as heavy snows will have fallen.
The big weather news of this past week were the incredible snows at Whistler which received close to 70 inches. Panorama got 17 inches, whileAlberta began seeing some of the finest skiing of the season with 20 new inches at Fortress; Jasper got 32 inches while Banff received more than 30 inches. Some of the lower elevations in B.C. were seeing the old Pineapple Express nemesis with rain hurting some of the improved conditions that did temporarily arrive at Red Mountain and Whitewater in British Columbia.
Mt. Ashland in Oregon received over 20 inches of snow with some rain at the lower elevations in parts of the Pacific Northwest. Skiing in much of Oregon and Washington is marginal with lose granular and/or wet skiing conditions. Mt. Baker and some of the higher elevations have seen some heavier snow and great conditions.
In the Sierras, Utah and Colorado, a major storm is dumping some of the heaviest snow of the season and as freezing levels fall, significant snows will fall by mid-week (see report). Some of the best skiing of the season will bless Utah and Colorado this week.
The first map “current snow-cover anomaly” illustrates where below normal (yellow/red) to above normal (green to blue) snow exists. Please note that this map has not taken into account the big storm that is presently blasting the central Rockies. Anyway, you will see how parts of eastern Colorado, much of Utah and the Sierras have had below normal snowfall while the eastern U.S.has received normal to above normal snowfall. Much of Wyoming (Jackson Hole/Targhee) has seen slightly above normal snowfall and has certainly been the most consistent of any area in North America this year. By the way, I made an error last week—Grand Targhee can now boast having over 440 inches of snow this year. Anyway, the light green (slightly above normal snow cover) now extends up to Idaho, Montana, Fernie and parts of British Columbia.
FORECAST FOR THE NEXT WEEK
If you are planning a ski trip to Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, you’re in luck. Many areas will see 1-3 feet through Thursday of this week. Eastern Colorado resorts, such as Winterpark, may see the heaviest snowfall of the winter. Travelling will be difficult through Wednesday across much of the foothills of Colorado through eastern Wyoming and Montana with strong winds and heavy snow.
The second map shows low pressure over N. Texas on Wednesday, March 19. The solid lines (isobars) extend from the northeast to the southwest over Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, suggesting great up-slope snows on the eastern slopes of the Rockies with 20-40 mph winds. The darker green to blue regions suggest where the heaviest snow will fall by mid-week.
In the east, a chance of rain will develop by the end of the week, after several days of delightful skiing at resorts such as Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, Stowe, Smugglers’ Notch, Cannon Mt and Waterville, Valley. Even in southern New England, it will be a nice week to ski. There is a slight chance for snow later this weekend in the northern areas with temps falling back into the 20’s and 30’s north and 40’s in the south. Spring skiing should be great in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well, with warrmer temps. These warm temperatures will evaporate the snow cover quickly.
In Canada, a series of weak disturbances will have the chance to bring some moderate snows to much of British Columbia and Alberta later this week through March 24. Freezing levels should lower a bit, so places such as Red Mountain and even the lower elevations of Whistler should benefit with at least 4-8 inches of snow with a foot or more at the higher elevations. Heli-skiing will get a boost from the recent snows and active weather pattern that we envision over the next week. In Quebec, the warmer temps are making for nice spring skiing. Slightly colder weather and a few inches of snow may hit Le Massif and Tremblant this weekend, but no major storms are expected. There are some signs that Quebec could see a return to more normal snowfall about 8-10 days down the road, making for some good spring skiing with mixed conditions over most of New England. No unusual Nor’easter storms are likely along the east coast for at least 10 days.
Go to www.bestskiweather.com for tons of free weather information. We would appreciate your comments.
You can see how we forecasted several weeks ago the big pattern change toward drier weather in New England and big snows out by checking out my March newsletter at Click here for the complete Let’sTalkSkiWeatherNewsletter2003 March.pdf.