Snow to streak into Rockies, blanket ski resorts at midweek
By Kyle Elliott, AccuWeather meteorologist
December 12, 2018, 10:33:55 PM EST
The same storm system that unleashed rain and heavy mountain snow in the Northwest early this week will deliver a fresh blanket of snow to ski resorts across the Rockies into Wednesday night.
As the snow streaks into the Rockies, accumulating snow will be confined to the ski resort areas and higher elevations.
The reason that any significant amount of snow will fail to reach lower valley locations is because the storm will be splitting into two pieces as it moves eastward.
The first piece will move into central Canada by Thursday, while the second piece diving into the southern Plains spawns the storm system expected to bring milder air and soaking rain to the southern and eastern United States at the end of the week.
In addition, gusty, westerly winds will shred the snow apart as it tries to move off the mountains and into the valleys.
Thus, Denver and Havre and Great Falls, Montana, should only receive a few snow flurries while less than an inch of snow falls in Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho.
“Despite the lower snowfall amounts, gusty winds will lead to blowing and drifting snow and reduced visibility at times,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun warned.
Wind gusts frequenting 50-70 mph are forecast for many areas from western and central Montana to north-central and northeastern Colorado as a Chinook wind event unfolds through Wednesday night.
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"Some of the peak gusts may reach 80 mph through some of the passes and along the adjacent eastern slopes, which are strong enough to cause damage and pose danger to motorists," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Rathbun said that the highest snowfall amounts are expected to occur across Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming, where 6 or more inches are possible.
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Although the snow will create slick roadways and cause slippery travel for motorists venturing out across the region, ski resorts in the mountains of Colorado and Utah suffering from below-normal snowpack will welcome any snow that can give a boost to the industry.
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