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Short Range Forecast Discussion - Updated for Friday, November 21, 2014 - The Thanksgiving holiday period is shaping up to be one with a better than average base of snow for Aspen Snowmass and other Colorado resorts, and this weekends coming storm should really boost bases and make the slopes great and powdery (on track). If its not wintry enough yet, Saturday through Monday will make that transition for you, with a lot of snow across the resorts, especially west facing slopes. Today we see a weak precursor low pressure system move through and drop some very light and mostly isolated snow showers across the area. we are expecting to get slammed with heavy snow (!) later Saturday through Monday, and even into Tuesday, as a very strong Pacific storm packing lots of wind, moisture, and dynamics blasts through Colorado, with northern areas (including Aspen-Snowmass) receiving the most snow. (please see the longer range forecasts toward the bottom of this page) CM
Do you want to keep track of the US and southwest Canada snowpack? Check here >.
7 day to 2 week+ forecast (since 1998) - 25 November to 04 December, 2014 - Next Wednesday through Friday we expect dry conditions under a brief ridge of high pressure acrss the central Rocky Mountains. At the same time, a large and cold Gulf of Alaska low pressure system delivers rain and snow to the west coast all the way to Canada, and some even to southern California resort areas. That low pressure system hits the Rocky Mountains afterward, probably that next weekend (around the 30th). CM
Longer Range Outlook
As of now, November 2014, we are still on a path to see a weak El Nino Sea Surface Temperature pattern hold across the Equatorial Eastern Pacific. Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies yield a weak El Nino pattern across the eastern Equatorial Pacific (El Nino development is on track, but it will be weak at least to start, still favorable for California and the desert Southwest, plus much of Colorado and northern New Mexico). Please note; Many computer models indicate the El Nino SST pattern may become moderate strength later this fall and early 2015, with would help focus more of the Gulf of Alaska storm action across the southwest US and California, where its desperately needed.
A weak El Nino is now being predicted for this fall and winter, into early 2015. It looks like the early season (October/ November) will see more rain and snow for southern and central California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. This should help kick off the early season for places like Mammoth Mountain. This should also help build up a better than average base of snow for Aspen-Snowmass and Taos Ski Valley. Temperatures are expected to be near and below average for these areas as well, which helps. Maybe Thanksgiving will be pretty good for many more areas across the southwest, and even for Squaw Valley in Tahoe. The Northwest US is expecting a drier and milder than usual fall, with less snowfall than average, though with their usual heavy snowfall, especially in the Cascades, this drier/ milder than average fall season could still be good for resorts across the northwest US, mainly along the Cascades, less so inland.
The larger time-scale SST pattern in place right now is still a cool phase PDO, or negative PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). This is a more long term pattern (decades), and it has made any recent years El Nino SST patterns weaker (it looks like this is the case with the current El Nino, which was expected to be strong initially.
To summarize, the possibility of an El Nino pattern this fall and winter are "likely". Forecasts from other agencies are calling for El Nino conditions to hold this fall and winter. This would favor the southwest US (including southern California and across to Taos Ski Valley, even Aspen, Colorado) for heavier rain and snow this fall and mainly winter (2014-2015), after the wet monsoon summer across the southwest US (we forecast this in the spring). Northwest US areas, and southwest Canada, along with northern Colorado through Wyoming and the northern Rocky Mountains, should expect a drier than average, or near average snowfall winter (2014-2015). Tahoe/ Mammoth should see near average snowfall
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