Forecast by SnowBrains meteorologist Nathan Tarino
1:00 a.m. MST on February 18
A powerful winter storm will hit the Northern Rockies this weekend. Lots of cold air associated with this system drops snow levels at the bottom of the valleys and allows for soft, upright skiing.
Sunday will offer the best turns in the whole region. A few bonus inches and some terrain openings should also make for a great Monday ski day.
A shifting upper level pattern will make the weather more active to end February. For a change, the long-term forecasts are optimistic!
Snow will begin as a cold front pushes south over the region. The first flakes will fall in the Idaho Panhandle and neighboring parts of Montana late Friday afternoon. Further south, resorts near Bozeman will have to hold on until Sunday morning for the first snow. Either way, snow quality will improve throughout Sunday with moderate to heavy snowfall continuing well into the afternoon.
With very cold air aloft, scattered flurries will persist through Monday evening. Most resorts can expect to tack an extra inch or two after the last lap on Sunday, bringing good skiing conditions into the work week.
Snow totals will vary somewhat by region. At Monday’s Last Chair, look for the following snow numbers:
- 7-11″ for resorts near McCall, Idaho
- 8-14″ for resorts in northwestern Montana
- 3-6″ for central Idaho stations (Bogus Basin, Sun Valley, etc.)
- 5-8″ along and east of the Bitterroots in Montana
- 6-10″ in southwestern Montana (Bridger Bowl, Big Sky)
Calm weather will prevail again after the snow clears Monday evening.
The high-pressure dome aloft that was responsible for the dry February is slowly retreating westward, out to sea over the Pacific. This will allow stronger and more frequent storms to enter the region as March approaches.
The next bout of stormy weather and fresh snow will be around February 27. More active weather conditions are likely to follow as well.
The long-term CPC outlook is a relief to watch: