Looks Like A Promising Couple Of Weeks.

It has been a terrific week of skiing and riding in most of the U.S. and Canada and I have been lucky enough to squeeze in a couple of days. Loon Mountain on Tuesday was wonderful; miles and miles of packed powder and views of the White Mountains that are hard to beat. Packed powder, sunshine, and light winds at Stratton on Thursday added up to another awesome day.

The pattern looks very promising for the next couple of weeks, but it is not without its challenges. The primary challenge arises from a jet stream development over the northeastern Pacific that quite honestly, I had not anticipated. With a sizable pool of warmer than normal water over that part of the Pacific, I expected an upper level ridge to be a persistent feature that would extend northward to Alaska. Instead, a trough is parked over Alaska and the counter clockwise circulation around it cuts off cold air from the high latitudes and pumps milder Pacific air into the southern Canada/U.S. pattern instead. Temps will be above normal over Canada for the next ten days or so as flat ridging dominates there. Does that mean that it can’t snow over the northern tier of states? Not at all, because we are at the climatologically coldest time of year. However, each storm will be a nail-biter for snow vs. rain in the Midwest, northern mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. Here is a forecast map for the jet stream across the continent for later Saturday, Jan 25, that illustrates the issues.

The trough off the west coast that stretches northward to Alaska is tapping relatively mild air and sending it into the Northwest and mountains of B.C. There is a ton of moisture available, but snow levels will be an issue in WA and OR this weekend…not so further north in B.C. The moisture will flow east and the northern and central Rockies will benefit with moderate amounts of new snow later this weekend.


The red shades that you see across Canada indicate the extent of the ridge that will play a major role in this weekend’s event in the Northeast. Although it is mild relative to normal over the eastern half of Canada, that air is still cold enough to support snow. Also, upper ridges support surface high pressure centers that can deliver low level cold air into the path of a storm. Just such a high will be present over Quebec this weekend and it will help produce snow in the Adirondacks, Greens, Whites, and into the mountains of Maine. Further south it will turn into more of an elevation-dependent tossup. The upper ridge will help suppress the trough you see over eastern Ohio and it will track east…favorable for the snow to the north. The upper ridge will also keep the surface low from racing out to sea, so the snow will be a 48-60 hour event. Here is a snowfall forecast map through Monday night…it is great to see that significant snow will reach southward to West Virginia resorts…they are running a little lean right now.

Longer term it looks like the same general pattern will remain in place for the next 10-14 days, with another eastern storm in the cards late next week. After that, the western ridge should poke north far enough to deliver a fresh shot of cold to the lower 48.

Here Are The Regional Details

Northwest U.S./Western Canada: B.C. will see very heavy snow this weekend. WA and OR Cascades pick up heavy “cement” as snow levels start high and slowly drop. Same general setup holds through next week.

Sierra: Snow—perhaps a foot—Saturday night/Sunday Tahoe regio. Snow levels dropping through the event. Lighter snows southern Sierra. Some light snow next week; main storm track to north.

Northern Rockies: Moderate snow will develop later this weekend from Pacific trough. Wasatch, Tetons and points north looking snowy next week.

Central and southern Rockies: Dry weekend. Light snow early next week central, just snow showers south.

Midwest: Light snow north this weekend, mixed precip WI and lower MI. Another shot at snow later next week.

Northeast/QB: Long duration light to moderate snow event this weekend, north of I-90. Elevation snow between I-80 and I-90. Snow south to WV along Appalachian spine. Another storm late next week.

One Comment

  1. Jack Murray says:

    Thanks, Herb. You give us hope!

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