British Columbia Daily Snow

Heads up, there may be fresher snow! Read the latest British Columbia Daily Snow

By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 4 months ago December 8, 2023

Deep Snow Totals at Fernie and Panorama

Summary

Fernie & Panorama are both reporting > 40 cm of snow and will both be opening on Friday with deep (albeit early season) conditions. The next storm will arrive over the weekend with light to moderate snow totals across BC along with low snow levels. We will head into a drier pattern from Monday to Friday (Dec 11th-15th), and then storms could return as early as the Dec 16th-17th weekend.

Short Term Forecast

Forecast Summary

  1. Friday will be a powder day at Fernie and Panorama, and Kicking Horse is also opening with fresh snow from previous days. 

  2. Friday will be cold and dry for most areas with soft snow conditions, though a rain crust will lurk underneath the fresh snow in some areas.

  3. The next storm on Saturday-Sunday will bring 10-30 cm of snow to the Coast Range and a trace to 18 cm to the Interior.

  4. The Saturday-Sunday storm will have low snow levels and blower snow quality for the Interior, but the Coast Range in Southern BC will warm up immediately after the storm. 

  5. The best snow conditions for the Coast Range will be Saturday PM during the storm, but visibility and winds will improve (especially at Whistler) on Sunday. 

  6. The best snow conditions across the Interior will be on Sunday AM and only a minor warm-up is expected with conditions remaining soft on Sunday PM.

Current Conditions and Snow Totals:

Panorama opens for the season on Friday and they are reporting 43 cm (18") of snow since Wednesday PM as the band of snow from our recent storm stalled over Eastern BC.

Here was the view of Panorama Mile 1 Express Chair on Thursday afternoon:

Two main bands of snow moved into Southeast BC and the progression was a little slower than expected, but Fernie scored big and is reporting 53 cm (21") of new snow in the past 24 hours!

The first wave during the daytime hours produced about 18 cm on their snow stake cam, but the second heavier wave came through overnight. Check out the Fernie snow stake cam on Friday morning – all of this fell after dark, indicating very heavy snowfall rates.

This is great news as a big dump like this will bury the rain crust, and Friday is shaping up to be a deep powder day. Just keep in mind that early-season conditions exist underneath the new snow, especially with a slow start to the season. 

Several other areas are also opening on Friday, including Kicking Horse, Big White, and Silver Star.

Due to heavy rain earlier this week (up to 100 mm/4 inches in the area), Whitewater has announced that they are delaying their opening until Friday, December 15.

The good news is that Whitewater appears to have received another 25 cm (10") or snow on their snow stake cam so they have likely picked up close to 50 cm (20") since the rain event. That should help a lot for getting set up for next week's opening. 

Forecast for Friday:

Lingering snow shower activity is expected to linger across Southeast BC and Fernie through the morning hours on Friday, before eventually tapering off in the afternoon

Elsewhere, Friday is shaping up to be a nice day for areas that are opening, as there will be fresh snow to ski and cold temperatures with mostly cloudy skies to keep the new snow soft. The downside, of course, is that there will be a rain crust lurking in areas that didn't see deep enough accumulations to bury the crusts. 

Whistler and the Coast Range will have mostly sunny skies on Friday along with below-freezing high temperatures and light winds. In other words, a nice day to get out and rip some groomers.

Forecast for Saturday to Sunday:

A relatively fast-moving storm will track across BC over the weekend, but coverage will be widespread with snow expected for all major ski regions. This will be a cold storm, but the Coast Range will see warmer air arrive at the tail end of the storm.

Whistler and the Coast Range – Snow will develop around midday Saturday (earlier on Vancouver Island) and will continue through Saturday evening before tapering off later in the night. 

Snow levels will start around 150 meters (500 ft.) on Saturday before rising to 450 meters (1,500 ft.) in the evening. In other words, snow will fall from top to bottom at all ski areas, and snow quality at Whistler will be on the powdery side.

Snow totals will range from 10-20 cm (4-8") at Whistler, Mt. Washington, Manning Park, and Sasquatch, and 15-30 cm (6-12") at the North Shore Resorts. Roughly 75% of this snow is expected to fall before lifts close on Saturday.

Unfortunately, warm air will arrive at the tail end of this storm and freezing levels will rise to 900-1200 meters (3-4k feet) on Sunday. I don't think we'll see any rain at the end of this system down low, but I wouldn't rule out some sprinkles.

Given the warm-up, I would target Saturday afternoon for the best snow conditions, even though it will be breezy and visibility will be poor in some areas. I'm not sure if Whistler will open any of its alpine terrain or not this weekend, so maybe that won't matter.

Interior and Powder Highway – Snow will develop on Saturday afternoon and continue through Sunday morning. Most of the snow will end before lifts start spinning on Sunday AM with just some lingering light snow showers/flurries later in the morning.

A west-to-east oriented jet stream will be moving across Southern BC and the Northern Powder Highway (Revelstoke to Rogers Pass to Kicking Horse) will be most favored to see heavier snowfall rates on the northern side of the nose of the jet stream. 

Therefore I'm giving a nod to Revelstoke and Kicking Horse, which can also both do well with winds aloft out of the west/southwest. 

Here is my forecast:

Here is a forecast from a blend of weather models:

The main limiting factor with this storm will be the short duration, but most areas should see at least a light refresh. Also, snow quality will be dry and powdery with this storm thanks to cold air in place. Snow levels will remain at valley bottoms throughout this event.

Sunday AM is the call for the best conditions if you want to enjoy some fresh turns. Soft snow conditions will also prevail through Sunday PM. Winds will be gusty as the storm arrives on Saturday PM but will be lighter on Sunday with skies remaining mostly cloudy.

Northern BC:

Snow will fall from Saturday morning through Sunday morning with snow totals ranging from 15-30 cm (6-12") at Shames Mountain, 12-25 cm (5-10") at Powder King, and 5-10 cm (2-4") at Hudson Bay Mountain. The Coast Range and Cariboo Range will be most favored with lighter totals for the Skeena Range. 

 

Post-Storm from Sunday PM through Monday:

A trailing weak disturbance will move across Southern BC and will keep skies mostly cloudy across both the Coast Range and the Interior through Monday with occasional light snow showers or flurries. Any accumulations will be minimal, however.

Snow levels will remain below valley bottoms across the Interior and will range from 900-1200 meters (3-4k feet) at Whistler and Southwest BC. 

Extended Forecast

Most of next week looks quiet as a tall ridge of high pressure will build over Western North America. A weak storm is expected to move through and weaken the ridge briefly around Wednesday-Thursday (Dec 13th-14th), but snowfall potential looks marginal – especially for the Interior.

Longer range models are in decent agreement that the pattern will turn more stormy again around the weekend of December 16th-17th and into the week of the 18th as the ridge "flattens" a bit to the south. However, this pattern may favor warmer storms, at least initially.

Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Saturday (December 9).

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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