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SnoCast: Looking for December Snow?

LakeLouise_tw_112821 Fresh turns at Lake Louise. Western Canada has had the most abundant snow in North America in the recent weather pattern (Lake Louise/Twitter)

After a mild fall, we’re hoping December brings the colder and snowier change we’ve all been waiting for. Check out what’s in store in this week’s SnoCast forecast.

To start, lets take a look at where we’ve been. It’s been a slower start to the snow season than most would like. With many experiencing an unusually warm fall, there have yet to be many significant snow storms, and the snow that has fallen has not stuck around long. As of November 30, the lower 48 measured its 4th lowest snow cover on record for the day at just 11%. See the latest snow cover here from NOAA.

West

One exception to this pattern has been in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, where a wetter than normal pattern continues (a fingerprint of La Nina). For the highest and northernmost parts of this region, there has been very heavy snow, including for peaks of the northern Washington Cascades, British Columbia and Alberta mountains. Kicking Horse boasts an incredible November, and will open for a preview weekend on December 4. 

Looking ahead at the forecast, this pattern continues, with waves of moisture and high elevation snow continuing to target the same Pacific Northwest regions. The first of 3 storms move into the northwest Saturday, then tapers as it moves into the northern Rockies by Sunday with a general 2-6” of snow across the higher peaks from Canada to the northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming). Locally higher amounts fall in the Canadian Rockies once again, favoring ski areas like Banff Sunshine Village, Schweitzer, Silver Mountain, Nakiska, and Lake Louise

Another more potent and colder system drops in Monday to Tuesday (12/6-12/7), and this time pushing farther south to the central Rockies, in Utah and Colorado. While early to talk exact totals, this could bring 6” or more to many western peaks. A third storm will develop for the Northwest and northern Rockies by Wednesday-Thursday of next week, with more much needed snow for the Western mountains.

East

The east has had a colder stretch as of late, allowing for new snow for many ski areas in the Great Lakes and Northeast. A recent storm dropped as much as a foot of new snow in parts of New England, helping lay fresh snow for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Light snow shots still occasionally show up in the cooler, unsettled northeast. 

In the forecast, a quick moving system will bring flurries to northern Great Lakes, New England, and Quebec Saturday. A more potent storm winds up for Sunday through Monday, which will bring a mixed bag, depending on location. Areas on the colder side of the storm in the upper Midwest will see light totals of 1-3" of snow, with warmer zones ahead of the storm from New York through New England seeing rain first. As the storm pulls to the northeast into Quebec by Monday, colder air will trail into the northeast with a burst of snow to finish in the New England mountains providing additional light amounts. Ski areas that may benefit from this system include Ski Brule, Gore, Jay Peak, and Killington.

Yet another storm, likely colder for the northeast, moves through by midweek. 

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