First snow storms can be exciting. They kick us into gear for getting prepared for the winter season. They tell us to get everything tuned, repaired, or replaced. First snow can be a bit sad because oftentimes it doesn't last. It is simply a bit too early for the snow to keep piling up. Although, in some areas we will see the snow is here to stay. Even if the snow in our areas won’t stay, we should all be getting ready for when it does. We don’t want to be stuck waiting for our new skis to get here while everyone else plays in waist deep pow. Now, let’s talk about where the snow is!
Where has the snow fallen?
1. UtahFor a lot of us in Utah, we have experienced the exciting first snow fall. Places like Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley have all seen half a foot of snow in one week. The most recent storm has brought a foot of snow to much of the Wasatch region. The city has even woken up to a blanketed landscape of fresh snow on the ground. Avalanche safety officials have already issued warnings for Utah. They are stating that a big first snowfall brings rather unstable conditions in the mountains.
2. MontanaBig Sky and other parts of Montana were also hit by a couple rounds of snow storms already. Billing, Bozeman, and Missoula were all turned into winter wonderlands as well. However, they all returned back to fall-like weather pretty quickly. Some areas of Montana received a few feet of snow that seems like it is here to stay. Maybe enough to skin up a run or two of backcountry?
Just remember there isn’t a base in a lot of areas. This can make for potential avalanche conditions while also damaging your gear with exposed rock.
3. The CascadesThe early October round of snow hit the northern cascades directly. This affected high elevation areas and also towns like Spokane. Northwest elevations are no strangers to early snow storms since they have such perfect conditions for them. The cascades are notorious for the moisture they have. All they need are cold enough temperatures to turn that moisture into thick cascade snow. That moisture from the northwest is what brought the thick and wet snow to parts of Utah this past week in October.
4. ColoradoColorado was hit bringing a foot to several feet of snow in some areas. Keystone received a foot of snow this past week and now has a base of 18”. A winter weather advisory is still in effect for the Denver and Boulder area. Areas around breckenridge are hovering around a foot of snow with more snow coming down as I write this. If we didn’t know what month it was, we would probably assume winter is in full swing. As far as October goes, Colorado seems to be the area where snow has fallen the most. It is also an area that is expected to have the most snow for the rest of the month.
Where is the snow expected to fall?With more snow expected to build from the northeast, the brunt of it will be falling in Colorado, Montana, and Idaho. So far it seems that Colorado and Montana have had the most snow. These states have been receiving snow that is there to stay. This is because of more snow repetitively along with consistent cold temps in these areas.
A cold front is expected to shift westerly towards the end of October. This will bring snow to Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana before the end of October. You can also expect snow to fall in the Cascades as long as the incoming cold front stays to the west. Anything forecasted longer than a week or two isn’t set in stone. Who knows, all of that forecasted snow could shift down and isolate itself to the Wasatch range. So break out your lucky hats, get your snow dancing shoes on, and think November 1st for opening day. You never know what could happen.
Getting Ready to RollNo matter if the ski season starts in November or December, we should be ready right now. Roll with the excitement of these October storms and get everything squared away equipment wise. Check in on season pass prices to see when they go up. Book your trips before prices increase or hotels/airbnbs are full. Start saving for extra fun money on those trips. It will be worth it.
Without sounding too spiritual, the snow will come and stay when it does. Enjoy the last bits of fall leaves while being outside with the ability to feel your face. Soon the days will come where you have worn the same snow boots for weeks and have forgotten about most of your wardrobe. Which is fine as long as your other pair of boots are clipped into a ski or snowboard binding. Weather and snow is becoming increasingly more sporadic and different. It is not what it used to be. We could have an amazing season of consistent snow or it could be all over the place. Let’s make sure we are ready either way in order to make this ski season one of the best.