The Cascade Mountain snowpack right now is sparse, far worse than last year. Yes, Thanksgiving downhill skiing is always iffy in our region, but usually there is enough for some cross country fun. But this year is questionable. Only places that can make snow (like Whistler) have a decent chance of opening soon. But there is a glimmer of hope...
Not much snow at the top of Crystal Mountain
Paradise Visitor Center on Mt. Rainier. One of the snowiest places on the planet. Usually.
In October we had lots of precipitation, but we were also very warm, so that even higher elevations had rain.
Then during the past week we have been very cold, but also very dry except for a band of light snow in northern Oregon a few days ago.
Let's look at the latest snow depth analysis from NOAA. Here is the snow depth analysis for today (Nov. 16th). Very little in the Washington Cascades, but some light snow over the northern Oregon Cascades and northeastern Oregon. Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood, which got a piece of this, only has 9 inches on the ground. But there is one place that did well during this event: Mt. Batchelor, with roughly 2 feet.
To give you some perspective on the current situation, here are the snow depth analysis for exactly the same date in 2013, 2012, and 2011. A LOT MORE in the Washington Cascades.
We are now close enough to Thanksgiving for our models to have some skill. But first lets look at the Climate Prediction Center forecasts for the 6-10 day outlook. Oh, oh...warmer than normal.
Virtually all our models and ensembles suggest a major shift for us. The cold air is history. In fact, the air above us has ALREADY warmed a great deal. At around 5000 ft. it is about 15-20F warmer than yesterday. Here is the proof--the temperatures at Paradise Mt. Rainier (5500ft) are approaching 40F...about 20 F warmer than yesterday.
Let's take a look at some of the latest model runs.
Here is the upper level map (500 hPa) for today. Big ridge over the West Coast. Dry.
By Tuesday at 4 PM, a modest trough undercuts the ridge, to bring clouds and precipitation to northern CA. But the ridge holds over us.
The precipitation over the next 72h reflects this. Those poor devils in California need all the precipitation they can get.
Then a series of weak weather disturbances break through later in the week...we get wet, but will be warm. Not good for snow at ski areas or the passes.
So no snow through Friday.
The only hope is that some of the models are suggesting a major shift late next week, with the jet stream barreling in on us. Here is the 500 hPa upper level forecast (solid lines are heights) for Saturday AM from the U.S. GFS model
and the European Model at 4 PM Saturday for the same level (ensemble forecast on left, high resolution on the right). Similar idea.
With the jet stream (where the lines are crowded together) somewhat south of us, it would be cool enough to snow in our mountains. Here is the snowfall prediction from the UW WRF model for the 72 h period ending 4 PM Saturday. FINALLY, some snow in the Washington Cascades.
Mt. Batchelor conditions Monday AM. The best around....