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SnoCast: The Forecast Naughty and Nice List

KingPineNH_TW_122420 Santa still had time to hit the slopes at King Pine Ski Area in NH. (KingPine/Twitter)

A busy forecast through the end of 2020 from coast to coast will have you picking and choosing your windows of opportunity to hit the slopes.

East

In the East, a potent storm system continues to march east Thursday to Christmas Day. this system makes the naughty list at first, starting as a drenching, snow-eating rain. Unfortunately, this is going to be a drenching rain for many in the northeast, which could hurt holiday operations. But then, the storm turns nice with a sharp drop in temperatures from west to east behind the system. Cold air, lake effect and terrain-driven snow continue into Christmas weekend as a chilly west-northwest wind blows in. Look for 5-15” of lake effect snow east of Lakes Michigan, Erie, and Ontario, with highest totals in western New York possible over 2 feet. Terrain-driven snow favors the west and northwest facing mountains Saturday from NY to VT and NH. Strong winds accompany this storm, so watch for wind delays on the slopes.

Northeast map with snow forecast through early Sunday, Dec. 27 (NWS)

Maximum wind gust forecast through Christmas Day as a potent storm blows through the east (NWS)

A quiet Sunday, is followed by a quick-moving, weaker storm system that tracks from Illinois, to southern Ontario and Quebec, bringing a light shot of snow (1-4”) to areas just north of the track center.

Looking ahead into next week (Dec 28-Jan 1), the East will see another strong by mid to late next week, with details to be determined. NOAA's Weather Prediction Center is already monitoring it.

 

West

The West has a quiet Thursday and early Christmas morning, before a cold front brings rain and mountain snow from Northern California to the Pacific Northwest through the day Friday. Snow levels start high Friday, then drop Friday night as do temperatures. Heaviest snow will fall in the northern Sierra Nevada in California, and the Washington Cascades where a general 5-15” of snow will fall for many ski areas, locally over a foot at the highest peaks, putting this system on the nice list.

Snow forecast Friday and Saturday in northern California (NWS Sacramento)

Light snow showers drift into the intermountain west peaks with a light coating of snow into Saturday night as far in as Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Good news for when Santa wants to hit the slopes after a busy holiday.

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Buddy the Elf pose for a photo on the slopes at Schweitzer  Mountain in Idaho.  (SchweitzerID/Twitter)

 

A quiet Sunday, will give way to another storm developing for the southwest U.S. Monday into Tuesday (Dec. 28-29). While early to speculate on totals, this looks like a moderate snowfall for peaks in central California, with lighter totals in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. Here's one model for that system, but totals will likely change as we get closer to the event.

Modeled snow forecast Monday-Tuesday Dec 28-29 features snow in the southwest US (PivotalWeather.com)

Looking ahead into next week (Dec 28-Jan 1) , the West will continue to feature chilly temperatures, with the Pacific Northwest remaining most likely region for additional storms and snow—a typical La Nina setup.

Check back in every week for a new SnoCast through ski season. Also, be sure to check out the latest snow report to see conditions and safety guidelines.

Snowfall forecast map across the US through early Sunday, Dec 27 (NWS)

 

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