The main weather news continues to be the extreme cold and above normal snowfall that is dominating the eastern United States, while parts of the west, British Columbia and Alberta continue to see below normal snow-pack and marginal ski conditions.
It's rare that we mention ski resorts such as Bridgerbowl, Montana (72" this past week), Camelback, PA (now hosting 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 inches and Telluride getting around 10 inches. Most of the rest of the state received anywhere from 3-12 inches of snow. Areas such as Snowmass and Winterpark could use a good blast of new snow right now, though they did manage to pick up around 4 inches last week.
Some of the best skiing out west continues to be at Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee, where another foot of snow fell over the last week and several feet in the last 2-3 weeks.
Dry concerns continue for much of the Sierra Nevada range from Alpine Meadowsto Squaw Valley and the Tahoe area, in which snowfall has been under 3-6 inches in the last two weeks. This is well below normal. Still, Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood claim to have bases of well over 100 inches of snow.
Ski conditions in western Canada are pretty poor in most areas. I certainly do not want to rub it in, but notable ski resorts such as Fernie and Whistler have a hard-pack base with less than four inches of new snow the last 10 days.
While most of Alberta is in only fair condition at best, the snow award in that province goes to Castle Mountain, which has received 15 inches over the past week. In Quebec, cold weather and snow showers have improved conditions in many regions. Mt. Tremblant has received 15 inches over the past week, while Mt. Orford got seven inches and more is on the way.
FORECAST THROUGH FEBRUARY 16, 2003
For the beginning of this week the main weather news will again be the East Coast snows and cold temperatures—6-15 degrees below normal right through the weekend. Many ski resorts from the Carolinas to the Poconos will see at least another 4-8 inches from two separate weather systems. Snow will also affect Vermont and New Hampshire with similar amounts. There is a slight chance that the normally lake effect prone ski resorts over the northern Adirondacks and Green Mountains such as Smugglers' Notch, Jay Peak and Whiteface Mountain could see 6-12 inches this week. Great skiing will continue in the east for the next one to two weeks, but dress warmly because morning lows will be below zero in northern New England through the weekend and in the single digits over southern New England.
Out west, we will be watching a storm that's spinning off the southern California coast and has a good chance to bring needed snowfall to many ski resorts in southern California, Nevada and parts of Utah. Many ski resorts from Mammoth Mountain to Tahoe to Alta have a chance to receive in excess of a foot of snow by mid-week. It's possible that some of these areas could see up to two feet of snow. The moisture will stream eastward by Thursday or Friday and should bring at least 4-8 inches of snow to Vail, Aspen, Steamboat and Winterpark, Colorado. This system has the potential to bring even heavier snows and reverse a major dry pattern that has existed in parts of the central Rockies and Sierras. Ski resorts such as Taos, NM, and many other resorts in the southwest could see over a foot of snow as well.
Farther north, drier weather is likely across the northern Cascades from Crystal Mountain and Mt. Baker into Wyoming and Montana. Temperatures here will be warmer than normal this week. A weather system could produce some 3-6 inch snows by the end of the week 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-mails from folks who arre planning a vacation to that beautiful region in March.
First of all, the strong upper level ridge that has been blocking storm systems from entering western Canada and California to Utah will begin breaking down by February 17. The early signs of this "erosion" of the drought producing ridge is the wet southern California storm that will bring a blessing to the central/southern Rockies and Sierras. Toward the later part of the month and into March, I have a feeling that a return to above normal snowfall will bless drought starved western Canada. If you look at my Let'sTalkWeather newsletter on my web site, you will see my most recent issue I'm offering for Free. It will address these concerns.
Anyway, today we have two maps for you. The first one "blocking ridge out west" illustrates why parts of the west have been so dry. The 576 circle you see off the West Coast represents an unusually 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 originate over Alaska and the Arctic Circle and come streaming down into the eastern U.S. That is where most 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 British Columbia represents storm systems that will hopefully 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 and magazine subscriptions. For the best in snow reporting for ski resorts go to http://members.aol.com/crockeraf/seas03.htm