Avalanches Kill 20 In Tajikistan; Over 3.5 Feet Of Snow Buries Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico; Alta Surpasses 500 Inches; Argentina Cools; + Low Temperature Records Fall Across Western U.S.

Avalanches Kill 20 In Tajikistan

Heavy snow has been pounding the ‘stans’ in recent months, and Central Asians have been suffering.

This week, avalanches have killed at least 20 people in Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan and Ishkoshim regions.

13 of the deaths occurred in the city of Khorug, where 39 houses and the Afghan consulate were also buried.

A separate avalanche in Vanj District killed 2 people.

While another was reported in Sangvor district, though rescue attempts there were successful.

The Dushanbe-Chanok road, the only route to northern Tajikistan, has been closed since the event.

And with yet more snow on the way, authorities have banned travel across the highlands.

Over 3.5 Feet Of Snow Buries Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ski Santa Fe received more that 3.5 feet (43 inches/109 cm) of fresh snow during this past storm, over just a 48-hour period.

Officials called conditions “outstanding” with an 81-inch base now at the resort.

“We’ve had one of the most incredible storm cycles,” said Jack Dant, manager of Ski Santa Fe.

“This is gonna help us get through the rest of the season without having to do any additional snow making.”

Purgatory Resort in Durango posted 25 inches over the past 24 hours alone, and a total of 33 inches in the past 48 hours.

Sierra Levels

Current snow levels are well-above average across the Sierras–even higher than the historic 2017 and 2019 seasons.

In 2017, PCT hikers were postholing through feet of snow in the Sierra well into July.

It’s likely that hikers can expect similar conditions in 2023.

This season’s statewide average snowpack, according to California Department of Water Resources data, was 196% of the average on Feb 10, 2023. In comparison, the statewide average snowpack for the same date in 2017 was 180%.

Alta Surpasses 500 Inches

Alta Ski Area in Utah has smashed through the 500 inches mark for the season — felling an all-time record.

Back in 1981-1982, Alta set its long-standing record for the most snowfall between October and January when an astounding 442 inches accumulated. Alta usurped that record by 3 inches back on Jan 25, 2023, but since then the snow has persisted, with the resort’s seasonal total now sitting at 502 inches with feet-more in the forecast.

Alta has surpassed 500 inches in 2016/17, 2018/19, 2019/20 and now 2022-23 — it’s like a trend is developing…



Argentina Cools

Unlike Brazil and host other South American nations, Argentina has held unusually warm this SH summer.

That all changed this week, however, when as blast of anomalous polar cold engulfed the nation.

The chill was most notable in Ushuaia, where sleet fell and a record low-max of just 4.7C (40.5F) was posted — the locale’s lowest daily temperature for the month of February.

The cold air is now due to intensify and shift north, fast, invading Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil over the weekend:

GFS 2m Temperature Anomalies (C) Feb 16 – Feb 18 [tropicaltidbits.com].

Low Temperature Records Fall Across Western U.S.

Simultaneously with the South, North America is contending with its own polar outbreak.

Warnings, alerts and advisories have been issued for some 100 million Americans, and records are beginning to fall with a further eastward expansion expected over the coming days.

Records have been felled across seven Western states over the past 24 hours alone: in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho.

With 39F posted its airport, Fullerton, Southern California tied its all-time record low from 2009 (solar minimum of cycle 23).

While a record low of 31F was reported in San Jacinto, matching the record low minimum set in 1989.

The NWS is warning of more widespread cold/snow shifting east beginning this weekend, into Montana and Idaho, followed by another round of “bitterly cold” temperatures during the middle part of next week as an “Arctic front” develops.

Next week’s blast will grip far-eastern parts, too, giving states such as New York something of a swing between extremes.

Accuweather is calling this “a major outbreak of cold”, pointing out that it will hit close to the one-year mark of 2022’s cold wave.

“During last year’s cold and snowy outbreak, Seattle set a record low of 23F on February 23,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Joseph Bauer, pointing out that the jet stream is preparing to make an identical-looking “major southward plunge”.

Temperatures could be driven to as much as 25-50F below historical averages during this outbreak, with feet of snow expected to pile up across the higher elevations.

The core of the deep freeze is likely to occur from Thursday, Feb 23, through Saturday, Feb 26, and additional temperature records will almost certainly tumble during this spell, particularly along the Pacific coast.

Looking even further ahead, forecasters see subsequent rounds of cold air will follow into early March.

GFS 2m Temperature Anomalies (C) Feb 16 – Feb 24 [tropicaltidbits.com].
GFS 2m Temperature Anomalies (C) Feb 17 – March 5 [tropicaltidbits.com].

That SSW event also continues to build, though the atmosphere is still yet to decide exactly how it will permeate the lower troposphere (i.e. where our weather ‘happens’).