Hitting the slopes is almost always better than any other activity you can conjure up. But the one thing that can really push it over the top is fresh snow, and that ingredient has been lacking for the first part of this season. Luckily, a new year brings the likelihood of a new storm track for most of the U.S. I won’t keep you in suspense—this new storm track should push the odds in favor of more snow across the country. But before you go jump for joy, remember that powder days are created by the details of each storm, not through overall weather patterns. With that in mind, let’s see what we can find in the way of fresh snow for Martin Luther King weekend and into the middle of January. 

Graphic 5-day forecast

The snow forecast through Monday, Jan. 16. Weather computer models are never exactly right, but this provides a good overview of where the flakes will fly.

EAST COAST

Good news and bad news, and of course we’ll start with the good news. Two storms will hit leading up to the weekend. And the bad news? The track of these storms will be too far inland to keep the cold air in place, so only the most northern resorts in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine will see all (or mostly snow). The first storm will bring snow, then ice and then some rain to much of New England on Thursday night into Friday. But then a second storm will sweep in much colder air by later Friday and Friday night. This second storm could bring six inches or more to western New York, central and northern New England, and areas along the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania down through Wisp, Maryland and West Virginia. Following this fresh snow, skies will clear and stay sunny from Saturday afternoon through Monday for most areas north of Pennsylvania.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

It’s on! With the storm track moving south back into the lower 48 states, a train of low pressure systems will hit Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho from Sunday through the middle of next week. Temperatures will be cold enough for mostly snow to fall through the Cascades, and there could be many feet of accumulation by Tuesday or Wednesday. While the new storm track won’t guarantee powder for mountains further south, Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho should be in very good shape.

Graphic Storm Track

The storm track will shift south with good snow falling just to the north of the dark blue line. Will Tahoe, Utah and Colorado get in on the snowy action? That’s the question.

REST OF THE WEST

Here’s where the forecast gets interesting, and why meteorologists seem to lose their hair faster than others. The new southern shift of the storm track is a good thing, but unless it nudges just south of Tahoe and passes through central Utah and central Colorado, most of the snow will miss these areas. Locations further north into the Tetons of Wyoming and southern Montana will see good snows toward the middle of next week. But it’s just impossible to tell if the Jet Stream will head far enough south to unleash lots of flakes in the areas that need it most. At some point in the next week or two, I expect Tahoe, Utah and Colorado to see at least a few good storms. But it’s impossible to pin down the deepest snow in this area until just a few days before each individual storm.

Meteorologist Joel Gratz is the creator of opensnow.com and is based in Boulder, Colo.