The West is largely dominated by high pressure. A few small cold fronts will sneak through the eastern periphery through 1/23 with minor snow accumulation in MT, WY, UT, and CO.
Ski the Northeast this Sunday-Monday with a Nor` Easter on tap.
When will this pattern change for the Intermountain West? It could be a long wait and confidence is low. Potentially by 1/29 or later.
Infrared satellite shows the storm track and lack of activity across most of the West.
Looking down the road
A few small cold fronts will sneak through the eastern periphery of the Western high pressure. But, a larger pattern change could be a long way off. Below is one possible scenario around 1/29 with lower pressures building across the Intermountain West.
Let’s look at my snow forecast in two time periods.
1 small cold front sneaks through with minor snow in MT, CO.
1-2 cold fronts sneak through with minor snow in WY, MT, UT, CO.
I talked with Dale Atkins of Alpine Rescue Team about how this technology works and how it will be used. Atkins has been involved in avalanche rescues since the 1970s.
Search and Rescue (SAR) is a two-part operation and involves several agencies. First, you must locate the missing the person(s) before any rescue can be performed. Atkins said, “This is another tool in our toolbox. The helicopter can cover great distances in a short amount of time.” Atkins stressed to me that this technology can’t be used for all SAR missions, but when deployed it will likely increase SAR efficiency.
Weather, type of emergency call, location of emergency, and size of avalanche are all considered before Flight for Life is deployed.
“I could see using this technology for very large avalanches with numerous missing people. It could be used just outside of ski area boundaries. I could see using this technology in remote locations with numerous small avalanches that would normally take ground crews a long time to search,” Atkins said.
Colorado Avalanche Risk
Colorado leads the United States in avalanche deaths per year. In between storm cycles, we see numerous sunny, dry days dominated by high pressure. These frequent changes in temperature and humidity create rotten snow layers (snow faceting).
Atkins also says we have a large population with easy access to high risk terrain.
As we wrapped up our chat, Atkins said staying safe in the backcountry is largely about terrain selection. “Know where you’re going. How steep is it? Are there signs of other avalanches? How stable is the snowpack? Get educated before buying any gear.”
A cold front sneaks through the eastern periphery of this Western high pressure on Friday 1/14.
This fast-moving cold front delivers light snow accumulation to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado on Friday 1/14. Then it’s back to dry weather for a week.
The most active weather occurs in British Columbia and at times WA.
When will a larger pattern change occur for the Intermountain West? Data is mixed and confidence is low. There are signs of a stronger cold front around the 22nd or later, but even this could be optimistic.
The infrared satellite shows the storm track. The jet stream remains most active in British Columbia and at times WA.
Looking down the road, a stronger cold front might brush the Intermountain West around 1/22 or later.
A minor, fast-moving cold front hits MT, WY, and CO on 1/14 then it turns dry until 1/22-ish.
The snow you see in MT, WY, and CO occurs on/around 1/22.
It’s a powder day in the Wasatch, Tetons, and the Central & Northern Mountains of Colorado.
Parts of the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre in Wyoming received 30 inches or more.
There’s one more storm system sliding down the jet stream between Friday-Saturday for ID, MT, WY, UT, and CO.
Then high pressure builds and the snow machine stops (except in the PNW/B.C.) until potentially 1/14.
Powder day at Loveland Ski Area!
The northwest-oriented jet stream will keep the snow falling in the Wasatch, Tetons, and Central & Northern Mountains of Colorado. Notice on the infrared satellite the next low pressure hitting the Pacific Northwest. That hits the interior Rockies between Friday-Saturday.
Then high pressure builds into the West. This will curtail snowfall for at least a few days across the Interior West.
Let’s look at my snow forecast in two time-periods.