A major winter storm is on track to impact the Andes Mountains of Chile & Argentina from tomorrow evening, Wednesday, June 14, through the night of Saturday, June 17. Over the course of this 36-hour period, over a meter (40 inches) of snow is expected to fall in the mountainous regions of Northern Patagonia.
This looks like it will be the storm to put the remaining South American ski resorts in the game – see our Opening Dates post for details. If the storm plays out as currently advertised, this weekend should be the official kick-off to the ski season in Patagonia – right in time for the Winter Solstice next week.
The above satellite images from the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional of Argentina illustrate the incoming low pressure system and associated moisture, currently on course to collide with the Andes Mountains tomorrow night.
The animated GIF image below is taken from the new GOES-16, formerly known as GOES-R, weather satellite. This is NASA’s latest, most high-definition weather satellite to date, launched in November of 2016. The imagery highlights the copious amounts of moisture headed toward the Patagonian region, and you can clearly make out the low pressure system driving the weather.
Once this weather system makes landfall, massive quantities of precipitation are expected. Strong pre-frontal winds will bring in a warm airmass before the onset of frontal passage on Wednesday afternoon. The storm will start out with rain in valleys and snow in the peaks, then the snow line will drop down to the valley floor as temperatures drop Thursday evening.
The bulk of the precipitation is expected to fall Thursday night into Friday morning, and with the associated cold temperatures, this should equate to some big snow totals across the Andes Mountains. The snow densities will start high and finish low: wallpaper paste at the bottom and cold, dry powder on top.
Luckily, it looks like temperatures should remain cold and the winds will remain light after the storm. That will allow the snow to settle in nicely and keep the quality high – good news for ski conditions.
But what does it all mean!?!? According to all of these beautiful swirling colors and computer model analyses, we’re about to get dumped on! It looks like it’s going to be an amazing opening weekend for some of the ski resorts in Chile and Argentina. Sunday, June 18, looks like a particularly good day for powder skiing in the Andes.