As you may have already heard, it’s been dumping in the Andes Mountains of Chile and Argentina. Some areas have reported up to 150 cm (5 feet) of new snow in the past week! As we are still rejoicing and giving thanks for the deep powder that has fallen, another round of storm systems are headed our way!
Winter has certainly arrived in South America, and it has come in like a lion this year. The region of Patagonia, in particular, has seen historic snow totals for this time of year. The ski resorts of the Patagonian region have yet to open, but with another round of storms headed our way this week, most of the ski areas are expected to open this weekend. This would put us nearly a month ahead of last year.
A series of low pressure systems are currently making their way across the Pacific Ocean, carrying with them a great deal of storm energy and moisture. The main difference between this storm and the previous winter storms to hit the Andes this season are the intense Northwest and North winds associated with the passage of the first wave today and tomorrow, Wednesday, June 21 through Thursday, June 22. With up to 60 cm (24 inches) of snow in the forecast during that time, we could be seeing some significant snow loading on leeward slopes.
That being said, there is a good chance that we will see our first avalanche cycle of the 2017 ski season in the region of Patagonia. Expect some thin, stiff wind slabs to develop near on East, Southeast, and South aspects, along with widespread cornice development on ridgelines. Thicker and softer soft slabs further down the slope may end up being the greater danger, where more snow may have been deposited by the wind.
Colder and more dry conditions will develop by later in the day on Friday, June 23, accompanied by a significant drop in wind speeds. The second wave of this storm has the potential to produce just as much snow as the first, adding another 60+ cm (two feet+) and bringing the storm total to 120 cm (48 inches) of snow. However, the second storm wave looks be more driven by instability, with much less energy than the first wave. The snow totals of this second wave will depend largely on temperature, winds, and duration.
We are currently in an active winter weather pattern, and the result is a deep early season snowpack for South America. The snow is expected to keep piling up over the next week, adding to the recent snowfall already blanketing the peaks and valleys of the Cordillera de Los Andes.
Here are the latest estimates for snow and water totals, as well as temperature and wind values:
We will continue to keep you updated on weather & ski conditions, as well as the latest ski resort openings for Chile and Argentina: see our resort openings post. This winter is coming on strong, and it looks like it’s going to be an epic ski season in Argentina this year. Our Signature Tours are scheduled for August 2017, so sign up to join the adventure and experience the unique and authentic experience of skiing in Patagonia.