British Columbia Daily Snow

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By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 4 months ago December 6, 2023

Rain Changes to Snow as Colder Air Arrives

Summary

Moisture will linger across the Interior on Wednesday but colder air will arrive, resulting in lowering snow levels and accumulating snow. The pattern looks most favorable for eastern areas including Fernie and Kicking Horse on Wed night/Thurs AM. A storm on Thursday PM has trended much weaker with only flurries expected. The next storm is likely on Saturday with snow levels staying low.

Short Term Forecast

Forecast Summary:

  1. Snow levels will drop across the Interior on Wednesday-Wednesday night as a cold front slowly moves through with rain changing to snow at ski areas throughout the Interior.

  2. Snow totals from Wednesday to Thursday morning will be highest across the Eastern Interior, including 12-25 cm (5-10") at Kicking Horse and Fernie.

  3. Thursday's storm has trended weaker with only light snow showers/flurries expected.

  4. The next storm will arrive on Saturday with moderate snow expected along with low snow levels. Some areas could see localized bands of heavier snowfall rates.

  5. The best skiing conditions this weekend will be on Sunday morning in most areas, except for lower elevations of the Coast Range which will be better on Saturday afternoon.

Forecast for Wednesday to Thursday:

The core of the subtropical moisture plume (i.e. the atmospheric river) will begin to slowly shift southeast today, and while we will hang onto lingering moisture across the Interior, colder air will also begin to filter in resulting in lowering snow levels

A cold front will slowly work its way from NW to SE across the Interior with the Okanagan resorts along with Revelstoke, Whitewater, and Red Mountain seeing most of its snowfall during the daytime and especially the afternoon hours as snow levels will drop here sooner. 

The cold front will work its way into East/Southeast BC on Wednesday night and wind convergence (winds blowing from opposite directions) will increase along the front as it does so, which will force moist air to rise at an accelerated rate, thus leading to heavier snowfall rates. 

Most areas will see snowfall taper off before daybreak on Thursday. The exceptions are Southeast BC (Fernie, Kimberley, and maybe Panorama and Whitewater) where snow will continue through at least midday Thursday, and possibly into Thursday afternoon at Fernie. 

The rest of the Interior will see only minimal impacts from a weak storm on Thursday, with scattered light snow showers or flurries that may add up to a few centimeters at most in some areas.

Snow Totals – I expect Fernie and Kicking Horse to see the deepest snow totals in this pattern, but keep an eye on Panorama and Kimberley as possible wild cards. Whitewater should also do well with most of its snow falling during the daytime hours on Wednesday. 

Here is my forecast:

And here is a projection from the high-res Canadian Model:

Skiing – Most resorts are still closed, but Fernie is one of the few that is open. Thursday looks like a fun day to get out there and enjoy the fresh snow with the potential for a powder day if we come in a the high end of the range. But if we end up toward the lower end of the range, then the rain crust underneath the fresh snow will be quite noticeable.

Also, Kicking Horse and Whitewater are planning to open on Friday and there will be fresh snow to enjoy from this cycle. 

Travel – As the cold front moves through, accumulating snow is likely down to the valley floor in Eastern BC including the Rocky Mountain Trench. Given the change from a warmer airmass to a colder airmass, roads could be very slick throughout the region on Thursday morning, both in the valleys and over the passes.

Whistler and the Coast Range – This region will largely miss out on Wednesday/Thursday's snowfall. A storm on Thursday has trended weaker and it looks like only limited moisture will make it into the Coast Range with snow showers resulting in anywhere from 0 to 5 cm (0-2").

Manning Park may end up with a little more snow shower activity compared to areas further west and could see anywhere from 2-10 cm (1-4") on Thursday.

Snow levels will be low (down to base areas) with any snow shower activity that occurs on Thursday.

Extended Forecast

Outlook for Friday to Sunday:

We will see a break in the pattern on Friday with cold and dry conditions, then the next storm will move across BC on Saturday.

This storm will be on the northern fringe of an atmospheric river impacting the Cascades, and this is actually a good thing as colder air will remain in place with low snow levels. Most models are projecting fairly modest amounts of snow and this may have to do with the relatively short duration of snowfall expected.

But I'm keeping an eye on the jet stream which is projected to move roughly along the Canada/U.S. border. Depending on where exactly the jet sets up, we could potentially see some localized bands of heavy snow develop somewhere, that the models may not be picking up on yet. 

As far as timing goes, this looks like it will be a daytime event for the Coast Range and an afternoon/evening event for the Interior. The northern ranges of BC will see snow in this pattern as well.

Early Snow Forecast – I'm expecting a general 10-20 cm (4-8") of new snow across the Coast Range and 5-15 cm (2-6") across the Interior, but we'll get more dialed on this as we get closer.

Snow levels will be below ski resort bases in the Coast Range during this event, but warmer air will arrive after the storm with freezing levels rising above base areas by Sunday morning. If any of the North Shore resorts open this weekend, I would target Saturday afternoon despite the stormy conditions, and the same is true for Whistler's lower mountain.

For Whistler's upper mountain, I would probably wait until Sunday morning due to strong winds and low visibility on Saturday.

Across the Interior, we'll see how many resorts end up opening this weekend, but I would target Sunday morning and maybe Saturday afternoon for the best conditions based on current trends. Temperatures will also remain cold across the Interior on Sunday (unlike the Coast Range). 

Outlook for December 11th and Beyond:

It looks like we will dry out on Monday and Tuesday as high pressure builds near the West Coast.

Temperatures are expected to stay seasonally cold at least across the Interior, while Coast Range temperatures will be dependent on how close to the coast the high-pressure ridge sets up (confidence is low at the moment).

The next storm is possible around December 13th-14th. 

Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Thursday (December 7).

Alan Smith 

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About Our Forecaster

Alan Smith

Meteorologist

Alan Smith received a B.S. in Meteorology from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has been working in the private sector since 2013. When he’s not watching the weather from the office, Alan loves to spend time outdoors skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, and of course keeping an eye on the sky for weather changes while recreating.

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