The last week was fantastic across the northern Rockies as multiple storms brought consistent snowfall to the area. Many areas reported 2-4 feet of new snow over the week, including Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat in Colorado as well as Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
The weather pattern that brought these storms is called “northwest flow.” The storms moved into British Columbia then dove south and east into Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. If you’re in one of these states, the storms appear to come from the northwest, hence the pattern's name.
This area of the country is rather far from the moisture source of the Pacific Ocean, so it rarely sees large snow totals in a short time period. For example, it is rare to measure more than a foot of snow in any 24 hour window. Instead, the best conditions occur not with one big snow storm but with consistent snowfall that brings 4-10" each day. After a few days, the skiing and riding feels bottomless.
Looking ahead, a ridge of high pressure will move over the region and the skies will be sunny and dry for about 10 days from January 15th through the 25th. After that, it’s likely that the storm track will shift back over the northern Rockies during late January and into early February, so you won’t have to wait too long for the powder to return.
Joel Gratz is a Meteorologist and the creator of OpenSnow.com.