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.
Last week we talked about a pattern change toward snowier conditions in the Sierras and Cascades but that parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming may miss the bigger snows until this week. This has indeed been the case with ski resorts such as Lake Tahoe, Whistler/Blackcomb, and Kirkwood and others witnessing 1-3 feet of snow this past week.
Sun Valley, Idaho to Jackson Hole also experienced some snow as moisture streams in off the California coast. Take a look at the radar/satellite map from my web site and the copious amounts of moisture flying in from the west.
There is still some serious concern for Utah and Colorado ski enthusiasts who have witnessed well below normal snowfall over these last few weeks. Unfortunately, we forecasted this mini-drought in our early November issue of LetsTalkWeather that you can also find from my web site. Snow base depths have been a dismal 10-30 inches in much of Colorado and Utah.
Telluride has not had snowfall since December 2nd, though Winter Park and Vail received over a foot last week and has a snow base of 40″!
The weather pattern holds plenty of promise over the next 8-14 days from Alta, Vail, Aspen and many other ski resorts in the centralRockies through all of the Pacific Northwest. Even Big Sky-Montana, with a base of less than 20″, will get into the weather action with several inches of snow the next two days, dry into the weekend, and then perhaps an important snow event next week.
In New England, a warming trend is likely this week with below normal snowfall. However, early week snow is occurring from the Berkshires into southern Vermont and New Hampshire. The above normal snows across much of the northern Adirondacks and Vermont should result in good early season conditions even with the short term warming trend.
Jiminy Peak in western Massachusetts has a base of 18-50″ and with an additional 3-6″ snows this Monday. Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine, along with much of southern and central New England has received a foot of snow this last week.
This week’s weather map is valid for Sunday night–December 22rd. First of all, you will notice the “L” (storm) predicted to be in eastern Colorado this weekend. You will also notice a circle (also a low pressure system) off the Washington-Oregon coastline.
This double barreled low pressure should mean “significant” snows for the Pacific Northwest to the central Rockies over this week with anywhere from 8-20″ from Squaw Valley, Crystal Mt., Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole to Copper Mt, Aspen, Keystone and most other areas in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming by this weekend. The little “blue dip” in the jet stream you see over Montana represents colder than weather swinging into British Columbia, Alberta and Montana by this weekend that also may bring some important, significant snows to this region.
The huge green blob over Alaska represents warmer than normal weather and high pressure (dry) aloft. We refer to this as a “positive northern oscillation” whenever we see high pressure that far north. When this occurs, very cold weather often follows around this high center and will likely> mean a cold and snowy Christmas for much of the Rockies and west.
Finally, if you are headed to Europe, there has also been some drought conditions in some places. St. Anton, Chamonix-Mount Blanc and Val D’Isere has not seen important snows since late November. I see a continuation of below normal snowfall here this week with a “possible” major pattern change to very snowy conditions just before and after Christmas.
Go to www.bestskiweather.com for top rated free weather information, subscription information about our unique long range weather forecasting newsletter and to acquire FREE ski passes, which include your choice of either Ski, Skiing, Freeze, or Transworld Snowboard magazine.