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SnoCast: A Stormy Western Pattern; Mild Conditions in the East

Sugar-Bowl-Resort_fb_10182_20211021-133905_1 Snow covers Sugar Bowl Resort in California with more snow in the forecast (Sugar Bowl Resort/Facebook)

 A series of storms will target the West this week with some of the heaviest snow yet of the season in the Sierras, while the East continues to bask in mild temperature. Here are the details in this week’s SnoCast.

map of snow so far this season


It smells like ski season in the West, as seasonably cool temperatures and early snow has allowed Arapahoe Basin and Wolf Creek in Colorado to open first, with others eyeing opening days in the near future.  

snowmaking at Loveland Ski Area

A series of moisture-laden storms will roll in from the Pacific through mid-next week, bringing very heavy (flooding rain) plus pockets of very heavy mountain snow. One storm moves in from the Pacific Thursday night to Friday (Oct 21-22), bringing mainly wet weather as snow levels remain quite high.

Another more potent storm follows a similar path Monday to Tuesday (Oct 25-26) which will bring much-needed liquid to lower elevations (albeit, too much of a good thing in the drought-stricken West), and slowly lowering snow levels. The heaviest snow will likely fall in the Sierra Nevadas of California with the potential for multiple feet of snow—good news for Tahoe area resorts, southward to Mammoth and June Mountain. This same system and mountain snow spread relatively lighter snow amounts across the peaks of the Cascades and Northern Rockies through mid-next week.

map of snow forecast model


Mild weather has largely dominated so far this fall in the East. Many cities have hardly seen the first frost of the season, leaving mountain areas looking for the cold. Killington was able to fire up the snow guns in recent brief chilly nights, and only the highest peaks have been able to get natural flakes. 

A man holds a snow gun as snow blows from it on Kilington ski slope

Snow at the peak and foliage at the base of Jay Peak


In the forecast, there will be brief windows of colder air and possible snowmaking for New England and New York. A cold front moves through on Friday, ushering in relatively colder and mainly dry air behind. Temperatures will trend colder, with overnight temps reaching snowmaking territory in the 20s and low 30s by Monday and Tuesday mornings (Oct 25-26). The window is brief, however, as milder air returns for the remainder of the week.

Map of Forecast minimum temperatures in the northeast Tuesday morning

Looking Ahead

The pattern remains similar in the 6 to 10-day outlook, which covers October 26-30. Wetter than average conditions coupled with colder than average air keeps the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies in the most likely zone for snow chances. 

The 6-10 day outlook probabilistic precipitation and temperature trends (NOAA Climate Prediction Center)


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