The storms of winter are about to return. Just in time, I've been getting a lot of whining and complaining, which generally goes like this: "I want freshies!" or "I want freshies, DAMMIT".
And freshies you shall have. The relatively quiet weather pattern of the last several weeks is about to change. Right now we're under a split flow with storms diving south off the coast, sending the freshies far south into the Sierra. But by Friday, the split flow consolidates into a northwesterly flow that aims right at Oregon, replete with heavy mountain snow and strong winds. Saturday is my powder pic, as there should be a foot or more of new snow on Mt Hood with the snow level dropping to the sweet spot of about 500 feet. Sweet because it's not snowing in Portland, which prevents panic in the streets and local media. But it also means it'll be COLD on the mountain, with temperatures in the teens at 5,000 to 6,000 foot elevations. A foot or more should fall on Mt Hood Friday into Saturday and it'll still be snowing on Saturday. Snowfall will be less as you head south to Mt Bachelor and east to the Wallowas, but Bachelor will still likely see a foot or so and Anthony Lakes should be approaching a foot from the storm. If you prefer better weather conditions with less wind and a few sunbreaks, then Sunday's your day. Either way you can't go wrong.
And this storm isn't a one-shot deal. It'll be preceded by a splitter on Thursday, which means southern areas like Mt Ashland may be able to squeeze 3 to 6 inches out of the system as it drops south along the coast, while an inch or two may fall on Mt Hood.
Following the break in the weather Sunday, another cold storm drops in Sunday night bringing more powder with the snow level remaining around 500 feet. While this storm won't bring as much snow as Friday's, it should come with less wind, so the snow may actually lay down better for Monday morning riders and skiers. Mt Hood will likely see 6 to 8 inches from this baby. Monday would be powder pick number 2.
The last in this series of storm seems slated for Wednesday. This storm will be weaker than the previous two and also come with a higher snow level, but only up to about 2,000 to 3,000 feet, so still good quality snow. The heaviest snow from that storm will be from Mt Hood north, with 4 to 6 inches likely in the northern Oregon Cascades.
We've been patient, now, be ready to go forth and carve.
(Matt Zaffino has been forecasting powder days in Oregon for over 25 years. An avid back-country telemark skier, he’s hit the slopes of Oregon from his previous home near Mt Ashland to secret powder stashes in the Wallowa’s, while logging as many runs as possible at all of the resorts in the Oregon Cascades.)