Big Rockies snow: Early symptom of La Nina winter?

The snow season is off and running in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies this year. Over 90 inches of snow has already buried The Teton Range in western Wyoming.

Area ski resorts like Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee are ready to open as soon as this week.

Early start

Autumn snows have been prolific across the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. A look at current snow depth from NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) shows heavy coverage for mid-November.


Cascades snow

Mt. Hood in Oregon has already picked up 140-inches of snow so far this season. Ski areas in the Cascades are open early. Snowy scenes abound.

Classic La Nina

The snowy start in the west may be an early symptom of a La Nina-flavored winter. La Nina winters typically produce heavier snows in the northern Rockies and Cascades. The opposite is true in the southern Rockies with drier winters to the south of a La Nina-fueled jet stream pattern.



So what about snowfall in Minnesota this winter? As I wrote in my winter forecast last week, La Nina winters do skew in favor of above average snowfall in Minnesota.

Looking at the maps so far in November, my weather spidey senses are starting to tingle a bit more than usual for snowfall. It appears the cold is will be in place more often this winter. An active jet stream pattern would send a conga line of Clippers our way this year. Throw in the occasional jet stream buckle and Panhandle Hook or Gulf Storm and we may get a couple big snows too.

Stay tuned.

  • MJI

    Is the title a typo? I think you meant La Nina?

    • A few weeks ago it was definitely La Nina.

      • MJI

        Just wondering because La Nina was referred to in the rest of the post. Looks like they fixed the title.

  • C.M. Jones

    I’ve already established myself as an incurable winter-lover who dreams nightly of the emergence of an ice age, so suffice it to say that these wonderful symptoms of an imminent La Nina winter transfuse me with intoxicating joy. I’m hoping for a hundred inches of snow with at least sixty subzero readings. Moreover, I’ll do backflips on a frozen lake, which shouldn’t be hard to come by in Minnesota, if the growing season doesn’t resume until late May. Nothing saddens me more than mowing my lawn.

    Let it all freeze up for months on end! Anyone who feels otherwise is in the wrong state.

    • MJI

      I read a lot of sarcasm in this comment. 😛

      • C.M. Jones

        Not so much sarcasm as playful exaggeration. I really do love winter, and I’m truly campaigning for a harsh one this year, but I fully understand why few people share my tastes on this topic. That’s the advantage of a planet that provides four seasons. If you don’t like conditions during a given phase of the year, just sit tight a few months and await a transition. I maintain, however, that Minnesota is a strange place to call home if winter leaves you drained and crestfallen. You’re looking at a very long stretch of discontentment if temps below fifty degrees displease you. Warmer frontiers are available almost anywhere else.

        • Dave

          And because inertia is a thing, I root for mild winters. The last two were awesome.

        • Mild winters are pleasant, but a cold one might help reduce garden pests – insects and those wascally wabbits. We can only hope!

        • MJI

          Yeah I weather through it (pun not intended) by focusing mostly on indoor hobbies like art and writing. Then I eagerly wait for spring to enjoy more outside time. As much as I may hate winter, I do admit it is one of the best seasons for photography. Some of my favorite photos taken are from the winter.

    • theoacme

      Remember what Mr. Huttner said he was doing on Halloween 1991? If you want a big snow later, go out and mow your lawn NOW! 😉