The last few weeks of heavy snow across the Pacific Northwest have helped the region to gain significant snowpack. Washington is now averaging close to 100 percent of average for the season, while Oregon is still well below average at about 60 percent north/30 percent south. And Tahoe did some catching up in February with about 160 percent of average snowfall for the month. But this still only puts them at 40 percent of average for the season.
Looking ahead through next week, heavy precipitation will continue for British Columbia and Washington with 5“ + of liquid possible, while Oregon and Tahoe see lighter to moderate precipitation with 1–3” of liquid. The kicker will be the temperatures, which will be rather warm and keep snow levels above 5,000 feet for British Columbia and Washington and above 8,000 feet at times in Tahoe. This means that snow will fall, but it will be confined to the highest elevations. Converting the liquid to snow, multiple feet could fall in Washington and British Columbia, while up to low-end double digits could accumulate in the upper elevations for the Tahoe region.
The best pick for powder along the west coast over the next 5–7 days will be this weekend and early next week in British Columbia. Stick to the upper third of the mountains where the air will be cold enough for heavy snowfall.
There’s a chance that the weather pattern might dry out for a few days around the 12–16th, but then additional storms are likely as we head into mid-March.
Joel Gratz is a Meteorologist and the creator of OpenSnow.com.