While the northern Rockies have seen good snow over the last few weeks (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), the southern areas like Utah, Colorado and New Mexico have been rather dry. The reason for this was a persistent storm track that was in an unfavorable position for the central Rockies, with most of the storms and moisture hitting the west coast and then arcing to the north. Also, this storm track was rather warm with air streaming off the mild Pacific Ocean. But this storm track will shift starting this weekend to the delight of many skiers and riders.
The new storm track is not a guarantee of deep powder days, but it does set the stage for colder air masses to move into the US from Canada and provide at least a chance of snow every few days.
The first cold storm will move through the Rockies from Friday in Montana to Friday night in Wyoming to Saturday night in Colorado. This should bring over a foot of snow to the northern states and up to a half a foot to Colorado, where significant fresh snow hasn’t been seen since early November. Another storm will move through the same locations on Monday and Tuesday, and more storms are likely every few days as we head into the middle of December. This is the storm track we’ve been waiting for, and let’s hope the storms head just a little further south and west to ensure that Utah, Arizona and New Mexico can also get in on the action.
While forecasting the details of storms is not possible beyond a few days, forecasting the general weather pattern can be relatively accurate out to a week or two in the future. It does look like this new pattern will hold for some time, so thanks for doing your snow dances and sacrifices to Ullr!
Joel Gratz is a Meteorologist and the creator of OpenSnow.com.