REVIEW OF WEEK THROUGH FEBRUARY 9, 2003
The main weather news continues to be the extreme cold and above normal snowfall thatis dominating the eastern United States, while parts of the west, British Columbia andAlberta continue to see below normal snow-pack and marginal ski conditions.
It's rare that we mention ski resorts such as Briderbowl, Montana (72" this past week),Camelback, PA (now having an 80" base) or Winterplace, West Virginia (130" base),but we have to give these smaller ski resorts their fair due.
Over the past week, conditions improved in parts of Colorado with Vail receiving17" and Telluride around 10". Most of the rest of the state had anywhere from3-12" of snow. Areas such as Snowmass and Winterpark could use a good blastof snow right now, though they did manage to pick up around 4" or so last week.Some of the best skiing out west continues at Jackson Hole and Grand Targheewhere another foot of snow has fallen over the last week and several feet of thelast 2-3 weeks.
Dry concerns continue for much of Sierra Nevada range from Alpine Meadowsto Squaw Valley and Tahoe, in which snowfall has been under 3-6" the lasttwo weeks, well below normal. Still Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood claim anice base of well over 100 inches of snow.
Ski conditions in western Canada are pretty poor in most areas. I certainlydo not want to rub it in, but notable ski resorts such as Fernie and Whistlerhave a hard-pack base with less than 4" of snow the last 10 days.While most of Alberta is in only fair condition at best, the snow award in thatprovince goes to Castle Mountain, which has received 15" over the pastweek, so that may be the place to go. In Quebec, cold weather and snowshave improved conditions in many regions. Mt. Tremblant has had 15"over the past week; Mt. Orford 7", and more is on the way.
FORECAST THROUGH FEBRUARY 16TH
For the beginning of this week the main weather news will again be the east coastsnows and cold with temperatures 6-15 degrees below normal right through theweekend. Many ski resorts from the Carolinas to the Poconos will see at leastanother 4-8" from two separate weather systems. Snow will also affect Vermontand New Hampshire with similar amounts. There is a slight chance that thenormally lake effect prone ski resorts over the northern Adirondacks and Green Mountainssuch as Smugglers' Notch, Jay Peak and Whiteface Mountain could see 6-12"this week. Great skiing will exit in the east for the next 1-2 weeks, but dress warmly,morning lows will be below zero in northern New England through the weekend and inthe single numbers over southern New England.
Out west, we will be watching a storm that is spinning off the southern California coastand has a good chance to bring needed snowfall to many ski resorts in southernCalifornia, Nevada and parts of Utah. Many ski resorts from Mammoth Mountain to Tahoe to Altahave a chance to receive in excess of a foot of snow by mid week. It possible, some of theseareas could see 2 feet of snow. The moisture will stream eastward by Thursday or Fridayand should bring at least 4-8" of snow to Vail, Aspen, Steamboat and Winterpark, Colorado.This system off California has the potential to bring even heavier snows than this and reversea major dry concern that has existed in parts of the central Rockies and Sierras.Ski resorts such as Taos, New Mexico, and many other resorts in the southwest couldsee over a foot of snow as well.
Farther north, drier weather is likely across the northern Cascades from Crystal Mountainand Mt. Baker into Wyoming and Montana. Temperatures here will be warmer thannormal this week. A weather system could produce some 3-6" snows by the end of theweek in these areas; primarily in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
So will the dryness ever break in British Columbia and Alberta? I have received many e-mailsfrom folks who are planning a vacation to that beautiful, breath-taking region in March.First of all, the strong upper level rridge that has been blocking storm systems from enteringwestern Canada and California to Utah will begin breaking down by February 17th. The earlysigns of this "erosion" of the drought producing ridge is the wet southern California stormthat will bring a blessing to the central/southern Rockies and Sierras. Toward the laterpart of the month into March, I have a feeling that a return to above normal snowfallwill bless drought starved western Canada. If you look at my Let'sTalkWeather newsletteron my web site, you will see my most recent issue that I am offering for Free. It will addressthese concerns.
Anyway, today we have two maps for you. The first one "blocking ridge out west" illustrateswhy parts of the west has been so dry. The 576 circle you see off the west coast representan unusual warm, dry high pressure system which has blocked storms from coming into the west. The solid black lines are the jet stream. One can plainly see how the lines originateover Alaska and the arctic circle and come streaming down into the eastern U.S. That is wheremost of the cold and snow has been going.
The second map is by February 25th. There is no longer that blocking ridge. The little "x" you see over Utah and also British Columbia represent storm systems that hopefully will bring a return to more normal snowfall as we head into March.
Go to www.bestskiweather.com for lots of free weather info, discounts on Vermont Ski passes andmagazine subscriptions. For the best in snow reporting for ski resorts go to http://members.aol.com/crockeraf/seas03.htm