Watch out for the powder! (Snow forecast)

Summary:

Impressive amounts of wet snow (18 to 24 inches) fell in parts of PNW. The snow continues to change to rain towards the end of Monday. Modest storm likely for the Rockies and Sierra late this week into the weekend.

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Forecast:

A warm atmospheric river batters the Cascades with impressive snow totals as of Monday morning. Mt Baker grabbed 8-10 on Sunday and another 18-19 on Monday night! Temperatures are near zero mid-mountain and warmer at the base. Significant avalanche danger will likely exist due to the high moisture content of the snow, so be sure to check your daily avalanche report or just stay out of the backcountry today. Temperatures will rise Monday through Tuesday with rain likely in many parts of the Cascades at mid to low elevations. Avy danger will continue to increase in these areas.

Below: Impressive amounts of snow for Mt Baker Sunday evening. Stevens Pass also grabbed double digits. Warming has occurred in these regions with surf snow a guarantee of mid to upper elevation.

The Schweitzer ski area near Sandpoint Idaho caught 8 to 9 inches Sunday evening where it is still snowing heavily. Temperatures are also close to freezing, so expect deep, bottomless snow and some fun turns today ahead of Monday night’s warm-up. Selkirk Powder will be deep today if you catski or snowmobile early this morning. Please check out Selkirk Powder for your ultimate northern Idaho backcountry experience. They had a good snow season!

Below: Schweitzer ski area on Monday morning in deep, albeit dense, powder. Deep surf day!

Peak weather in PNW late Monday through Tuesday with temperatures of 4,800 feet in the 2-3C (37F) ranges, so any additional precipitation is likely to fall as rain at most elevations other than the highest peaks of the Cascade Range. It is even warmer in the southern Cascades (6-7C at 4800).

Below: Temperatures are rising in the PNW (Well above freezing in the South Cascades and 2C to 4800 feet in the North) Monday PM through Tuesday evening. Slightly cooler conditions exist for the southern interior of British Columbia, but with low-lying base areas, rain is likely as well. Courtesy of WeatherBell.

Extended pow

The week ahead will feature cooler temperatures and a good chance of snowfall for the Sierra and Rocky Mountains. The models went from a mid-deep Sierra Storm to a modest event. Today models indicate that snow will form by late Thursday and continue through Friday for the Sierra. Quantities appear to be in the modest range and may favor southern ranges towards Mammoth. Decent confidence exists for some snow for all Sierra lineups this weekend with slightly less confidence on exact amounts or where the deepest spots are. The American model shows equal amounts from north to south, with the European favoring the southern Sierra.

This system trails over Nevada towards Utah from Friday morning through Saturday. The US GFS shows moderate to possibly more favorable amounts for Wasatch, central Idaho (Brundage) and some snow for the Tetons this weekend. The European retains the highest humidity a little further south, above central Utah. Conclusion: High confidence for snow in many parts of the Rockies as Storm Sierra heads east. The models always show a spread on the exact track and who sees the highest amounts. Northwest and westerly wind directions are favorable for many parts of the Rocky Mountains. Quantities from this storm will likely be modest. Some advantage is possible over Wasatch or central Idaho.

Below: A low pressure trough formed over the Sierra and Rocky Mountains late this weekend.

Colorado might end up doing better if you want to believe the model is working as of this morning. GFS is slowest with heavy snowfall over Front Range resorts Saturday through Monday (moderate amounts along I-70 with heavy snowfall closest to Denver). The European model shows a deeper trough setting over I-70 early Saturday through Sunday with widespread snowfall in many locations. The Canadian shows a little less snow. Conclusion: Bullish for deep snow for Colorado at some point Saturday through Monday. The models diverge on the timing (early Saturday or late Saturday evening or Sunday). Fairly confident in many ski areas seeing snow north to south, a bit more confident on the Front Range, however, if the European pattern plays out, I-70 could be deep next weekend.

Below: Depression still present over the west on Monday morning with a slow movement. It could be for Colorado late this weekend or early next week.

Below: Total snowfall for the west until Monday. Low confidence with this map over 7 days and 1 model run (GFS). I’m sharing as a precursor and hopefully to boost endorphins while you’re cycling this week in warm weather. Most of the PNW snow occurs early this week with warm temperatures. CA/ID/UT/CO/WY arrives Thursday late on the weekend (modest event with some advantages in a few areas). Put the bikes away late this week or weekend.

Below: Looking further out from March 7-10, there is a trend of continued low pressure in the west. This may be the trend until at least the middle of the month. Courtesy of WeatherBell.

You can follow my adventure on Instagram @powderchasersteve for travel, snow and wildlife photos.

Enjoy the powder everyone.

Powder Hunter Steve

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