Senior Editor
11 Photos From a Legendary January in the Sierras

Is this the one? Photo: Andrew Miller

The Inertia

While most of the Western U.S. has experienced a dry spell in recent weeks with warm temperatures across the board, a pair of atmospheric rivers are set to bring much-needed moisture to the West, and especially to the Sierra Nevada. The storms will have a more normal feel to them as well, coming in a little warmer and leaving cooler –  the snowpack won’t be “upside down,” so to speak.

“The first atmospheric river will be cranking over the Sierra beginning Wednesday night,” wrote Powderchasers. “Very strong winds gusts of 60-100 MPH will be evident on the ridges before decreasing on Thursday morning. Temps will migrate from warm Wednesday night, with snow falling above 7,000 feet, to cooler Thursday and some lake-level freshies.”

That is what California snow aficionados want to hear. Powderchasers made the call that Kirkwood could be the big winner in this storm with 18-20 inches possible at upper elevations. Across the rest of the West, predictions are spotty with Southern Colorado (four corners: Wolf Creek, Purgatory) and Southern Utah (Bryan Head) expected to get hit.

One relatively sure thing that multiple sites are calling for is a big dump at Idaho’s Sun Valley (a super fun place to ride pow if you haven’t been).

“Three straight days of sweet spring skiing conditions at Idaho’s ski areas have been super fun,” wrote OpenSnow. “We’ll have one more day of that on Wednesday with high temps in the 40s statewide. A low pressure trough off the Pacific Coast will slowly move inland on Thursday, and that’ll bring cooler temps and new snow through Sunday. The highest potential totals are 10″ plus at Sun Valley, Brundage and Pomerelle.”

It sounds as though precipitation will hang around the Sierra Nevada for the next week or so.

“While it might not completely stop snowing in the Sierra this weekend (snow showers), a perhaps a stronger AR event is noted on the models for late Sunday to Tuesday,” predicted Powderchasers. “This system will likely bring another significant storm to the Sierra. Temps will warm with the moisture laden air, but overall looks a bit colder than the storm this week. It may provide a similar track to the storm this week. It’s too far out for confidence. We are very confident however, that the storminess will continue.”

That’s a pretty solid forecast for those of us looking to score in early February. Feel free to let us know where you’re riding.


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