In last week’s first installment of my weekly discussion, the Pac Northwest and northern Rockies were enjoying a parade of early season snow events while skiers and riders in the Midwest and East had to be content with tuning gear and digesting the state-by-state Covid restrictions rolling out recently.

The storms have continued to hit the same general areas that were hit in the West recently, and dozens of resorts with scheduled openings between this weekend and early December could probably open now on plenty of terrain with the snow they have picked up already. By the way, those same regions are in line for more snow in the next week!

In the Midwest and East, a fast moving trough passed through earlier this week, and the air was cold enough for snowmakers from the upper Midwest into the Northeast to get started building bases. In a transient jet stream pattern like the one we are in right now, where troughs and ridges keep marching around the northern hemisphere, making snow in these areas is a gamble.

Resorts would love to open in time for Thanksgiving, but at this time of year, seldom is there enough cold air around to keep it cold enough for snowmaking for more than a couple of days. Only if a blocking pattern develops, when an upper level ridge parks near Greenland, which then allows a cold trough to come to a halt over eastern North America, do we see appreciable early season snow or extended snowmaking windows. Blocking is not in place, so cold shots will only come along every three or four days. Luckily, when it does turn milder, the short days and low sun angle will help limit the melting of the snow that falls or is made.

A modest cool shot will produce a minor amount of snow and enable a minor shot of snowmaking across the northern Great Lakes, Adirondacks, and northern New England later this weekend. The snow will be confined to higher elevations in the East. The next shot at cold and perhaps snow will come just prior to Thanksgiving Day, when another trough will move through the Midwest and Northeast. Right now it looks promising for snow in the northern Lakes, but in the Northeast, the best we can hope for is backside snow after rain on the front end of that event. So for now, any skiing/riding over Thanksgiving in the East looks very limited, prospects in the upper Midwest look a little better. Your best bet? In the Pac NW and northern Rockies. Here is a snowfall forecast for the next ten days that says it all.

Here are the regional details…

Northwest U.S./Western Canada: Strong troughs from the Gulf of Alaska continue to pinwheel into this region, leading to snow events every few days. Cascades and coastal ranges of B.C. will be the big winners.     

Sierra: After a productive storm midweek, this region will be south of the action for the next week as the northern branch of the jet stream dominates.

Rockies: Northern Rockies pick up a couple of additional rounds of snow early to midweek. Resort opening prospects in ID, MT, and WY look positive near-term.

Midwest: Northern resorts in MN, WI, and MI will have nighttime snowmaking opportunities through this weekend, along with some natural snow. Fast moving trough will bring light to perhaps moderate snow Tuesday/Wednesday of next week. Some limited Thanksgiving weekend skiing/riding is possible.

Northeast/QB: After two nights of snowmaking this week, another nighttime opportunity will be present Saturday and Monday nights. Two messy events could “net” higher elevation snow late weekend and Wednesday into Thursday. Lower elevation resorts on hold, waiting for cold.

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