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It was an amazing week weatherwise across much of the U.S. A week that has kept me at my desk for hours looking over the numerous records that have fallen by the wayside.
The change in the weather pattern for the west has been right on track. Parts of southern California, Arizona and New Mexico had to deal with some heavy rain. A record-breaking 5-10 inches of rain fell in southern California with snow levels rising above 7,000-8,000 feet at such ski resorts as Mammoth Mtn. Later in the week, as freezing levels fell, Mammoth was able to pick up 11 inches of snow. Further north, however, Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood received anywhere from one-to-two feet of snow which helped to finally reverse the poor conditions that have plagued that region for more than a month. Much of Utah received 5-12 inches over the past week. Snowbird, Utah has received 235 inches for the winter. This is still below normal, but conditions have improved. Skiing in Colorado is improving with Beaver Creek seeing 18 inches of snow while Breckenridge and Winter Park received 8-10 inches.
In Canada, Fernie received close to 16 inches the past seven days while Whistler got about a foot. Northern B.C. saw lighter amounts of snow with Red Mountain and Panorama receiving about 6 inches. Alberta is still suffering from below normal snowfall conditions. Sunshine Village did manage to pick up around 14 inches in the last few days, but most areas have seen less than three-to-five inches.
Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee, Wyo., still claim some of the best skiing in the nation with another two feet this past week.
In the east, record cold weather and a historical snowstorm has been pounding the story. Jay Peak recorded 23 inches last week while Stowe, Smugglers’ Notch, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen have seen anywhere from 12-18 inches of snow. Record breaking cold of -20 to -30 degrees shattered records that were set back in 1987?the analog year we have used all winter to forecast some of the earlier dryness out west and the cold winter in the east.
The latest storm will go down in the record books as being the second worst ever in Baltimore, MD, and in the top six in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Ski conditions across Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and New Jersey are the best they’ve been in many years. Canaan Valley, W. Virginia has seen three feet the last 7 days while many ski resorts in the Poconos have gotten one-to-three feet.
FORECAST:Through February 23, 2003
As the big East Coast storm moves into the Atlantic, snows will spread as far north as Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire and Stowe, Vermont where at least three-to-six inches will fall by Tuesday. The Berkshires and southern White and Green Mountains will see up to a foot of snow. Skiing will be incredible in most of the east this week. A return to warmer weather will make things much more bearable with temps warming into the 20’s in northern New England and 30’s in the south by mid-week. A new storm will slide up the East Coast this weekend bringing a mixture of snow, freezing rain and rain to the region. A real mess may develop by Saturday. With the warmer weather and then the return to below normal temps next week, much of the recent powder may become bullet proof given the freeze/thawing we expect later this week and over the weekend. Heavy rains could pound southern New England this coming weekend.
Out west, the change in the weather pattern we advertised a week ago will bring normal to above normal snowfall in many areas. Two separate weather systems have the chance to bring well over a foot of snow to Colorado, Utah, the Sierras and Cascades this week. The first weather system will affect Colorado through Tuesday with four-to-twelve inches of snow likely.
A much more powerful storm will smash into British Columbia by Wednesday (see first map). This first map shows low pressure to the west of B.C. The darker green represents potential snnowfall of at least 6-12 inches across the Cascades and B.C. by Wednesday. Freezing levels will not be a problem at all this week. This system will dive across Nevada, Utah and Colorado by Thursday bringing at least 6-12 inches of snow to those regions. I think some places around Tahoe/Squaw Valley will see 1-2 feet adding to the foot of snow from this last week, bringing good ski conditions.
The second map valid for Friday shows the storm system moving from west of B.C. to southern Colorado (L). The large area of green across the Colorado and northern New Mexico suggests a foot of snow or more in many areas with a 40 percent chance for places like Aspen, Vail, and for the most part, most areas in central and southern Colorado seeing 1-2 feet of snow by Friday. Even Utah will see snow from this system.
As bitter cold weather moves into Alberta and B.C. by the end of the week and weekend, this will push moisture into the northern Rockies as well as much of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming seeing at least 6-12 inches of snow by the weekend.
I think I timed my ski trip to Tahoe pretty perfectly two weeks ago. I will be heading out there in early March and most indications are for a big improvement in western skiing through at least the end of the month. I look for several important chances of snow at Whistler to Fernie over the next 2-3 weeks with several feet likely. Backcountry skiing in both New England much of the Rockies and B.C. will be improving this week.
Go to www.bestskiweather.com for discounted ski passes in Vermont and tons of free weather, plus our long range forecast for February issued several weeks ago.