So It Begins, Unevenly.

As is often the case at the start of the ski season, the weather pattern is designating “haves” and “have nots” in terms of sufficiently cold air for snowmaking and natural snow.  Consistent with first year La Ninas, as this season will be, November has brought winter weather to the West while the eastern half of the country has been basking in Indian Summer warmth for the most part.   The jet stream has been set up in a western trough/eastern ridge configuration since the start of the month, allowing cold air to spill out of Canada into the Rockies, Cascades, and northern Sierra.  In addition to supporting a good amount of snowmaking, the western trough has also be productive in terms of natural snow and that has allowed a small number of resorts to kick off the season.  From Banff Norquay and Lake Louise in the north to Wolf Creek in southern Colorado, turns are now being made.  Wolf Creek, a legendary snow magnet, has all but six of their 133 runs skiable already.  Don’t believe me?  Check out their web cams!

In the short run, the western trough will remain in place, and additional snow will fall into this weekend in the B.C. coastal ranges, the Cascades, northern Rockies, and the peaks of NoCal.  Yet another system will move in from the Pacific late in the weekend, but that one will lift more northeastward, leading to more snow in the Northwest, but also a rise in snow levels.  Early next week, a ridge will pop up in the west, while a trough dives through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast. The air will be cold enough for at least a couple of nights of snowmaking across the northern Lakes as well as northern New York and New England.  It will be a gamble to make the snow, because the cold is not ready to settle into the eastern half of the country.  By next weekend, the jet stream will flatten out across the country, allowing mild Pacific air to move from west to east.  This jet stream forecast for next Saturday illustrates.

Although the flow looks pretty flat and dull, a look at the temperature anomalies at 5,000 feet, a forecasting proxy for surface temps. There will be some modestly cold air along the Canadian border, so there is potential for some additional snowmaking late next week in the Lakes and Northeast.  Here’s that map. 

It’s still early, so we’ll take potential where we can find it!          

Here are the regional details…         

Northwest U.S./Western Canada:  Two additional early season snowfall are coming, the first late this week, with a storm right on its heels about 48 hours later. The second storm will have higher snow levels.  

Cascades and Sierra:  The same two systems will bring snow to the Cascades with the snow extending down to the northern mountains of California.  

Rockies: Northern Rockies pick up two additional snowfalls by early next week.  First system reaches Wasatch, second stays further north.  Central and southern Rockies miss most of the action…some light snow will reach Colorado late this week, though. 

Midwest:  Resorts in far northern MN and MI will be able to make snow late this weekend/early next week and again late next week.  The early week cold will trigger some lake effect snow in the Upper Peninsula.        

Northeast/QB:  Northern New York and New England will have a couple of snowmaking nights early next week and again late in the week.  Longer term, CONSISTENT cold is not happening until a major pattern change, not likely until very late in the month at the earliest.



  1. Your right about the snow a week or so ago. Enough to make a few snow balls. The following week was great for the last golf outing. 70 plus warm wind and sun. Let us all pray we get to ski and stay healthy to make it through. ⛷

  2. Herb, what do you think happens to northeast skiing(NH) when Biden does an 8?week shut down?
    Do ski areas with distant skiing and masked riders remain exempt or do we lose the best part of season with no skiing feb and March?

  3. Herbert Stevens says:

    I don’t know the answer other than I am pretty sure he can’t do anything until after 1/20. I will stick to the weather…

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