The holiday sweater, new razor and socks were all nice gifts. But, the item atop your wish list is about to come true: finally some SNOW.
With the exception of the state of Washington in November and early December, many resorts and mountain towns have had a bleak start to what was shaping up to be another La Niña year. However, for the first time in a while, parts of North America should see high snow totals this week. So, if you're contemplating a last-minute New Years vacation or live in one of the three regions below, it's okay to start getting excited. Powder might be in your sights.
Snow is forecasted for the northern region of North America this week.
Snow is back in the forecast for many areas along and to the west of the Appalachian Mountains. A storm rising northward from the Tennessee valley will track directly through central Pennsylvania and New York before lifting into Canada by Wednesday morning. While areas to the east of the storm will see mostly rain, mountains to the west will get a nice dose of snow during the storm’s passage and following the storm. Timberline, W.Va. and Wisp, Md. should see at least a few inches Tuesday night behind the storm, and Whiteface in northern New York could measure 8-12” of new powder by Wednesday midday if it stays just to the west of the storm’s center.
Many of the recent storms coming off the Pacific Ocean have stayed north and pummeled British Columbia and southeast Alaska around Alyeska. However, the storm track is shifting a bit further south this week, and a fire hose of moisture will aim directly for Washington and Oregon. The good news is that this new storm track will bring with it the possibility of a lot of snow. The bad news is that the air coming straight off the Pacific Ocean will be rather warm, so snow levels will push above 5,000ft for part of the week. While this means that rain will mix with snow for a few days, colder air should return late in the week into the weekend to ensure snow flakes instead of rain drops. Look for Crystal Mountain, Wash. to report some nice totals especially closer to Saturday.
The same series of storms streaming into the Pacific Northwest will take aim at Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. High winds and somewhat warm temperatures will affect this area as well, but the higher elevation ski areas in this region will keep the precipitation falling as snow. Look for Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole to report a few feet of snow between Tuesday afternoon and Saturday afternoon.
While the SNOTEL weather stations show above average snow in Arizona and New Mexico and below average snow further north, the atmosphere will attempt to even out this disparity during the coming week. At least for the next few days, the powder will fall on those mountains that need it most.
SNOTEL stations show snow totals across the western U.S.
Meteorologist Joel Gratz is the creator of opensnow.com and is based in Boulder, Colo.