Lots of Sunshine

TL;DR: Expect a few bluebird days, followed by a chance for a couple inches of snow in the Wasatch on Sunday into Monday.

Well, there’s not too much to report on the Wasatch for the next few days. An approaching cut-off low will bring precipitation to the southern part of the state Saturday evening into Sunday, with NAEFS plumes indicating 12-15″ of snow in southeastern Utah at Abajo Peak (10810 ft above sea level) and 8-12″ at the Arizona Snowbowl. Though, these totals could easily change since the storm is still a few days out and there is a lot of spread within ensemble members. This system could also bring a couple inches of snow to the Wasatch Sunday into Monday, but expect nothing spectacular.

Graphic courtesy of University of Utah

The time-heights (vertical cross-section with time increasing to the left) here in Salt Lake City are showing a very dry air mass dominating until at least Sunday with snow levels near crest level. Although we won’t have great powder this weekend, warmer temperatures and an increasing sun angle might make for some spring-like conditions on southern aspects. You can also see on this chart that there is potential for some convective snow showers in the mountains on Monday; a moist air mass combined with instability could mean a few inches of accumulation in the mountains.

Get out this weekend and enjoy the sunshine — I know I will!
– Julie

Sunny, Cold, and Dry

Not much to report in terms of snow here. The title pretty much gives it away. Hopefully, everyone enjoyed their President’s Day weekend and took advantage of the bluebird powder day. Even the Ikon Pass holders that were blacked out on Saturday and Sunday got to join in on the fun.

Short Term:
The rest of the week, Northern Utah can expect to stay dry. With the passing short wave trough that is lacking moisture and the dynamics to get any precipitation going, we mostly will see some mid-to-upper level clouds with colder temperatures in the mid-30s during the day and upper teens at night.

Long Term:
As we head into the weekend, temperatures will begin to warm due to an upper-level ridge pushing into the region. Temperatures should make for some comfortable ski conditions. Southern Utah has a chance to see some precipitation Saturday and Sunday as a Pacific low moves across the southwest. The next chance for snow in Northern Utah is Sunday night into Monday due to a different system moving in from the Pacific northwest. Way too early for snowfall estimates based on disagreements in the models, but definitely something to keep an eye as we head into the weekend.

Thanks for reading, hopefully next time I will have better news for you all!


Ullr Delivers!

TL; DR. Storm totals in the Cottonwoods are 18-22 inches, and totals east of the divide are 12-15 inches. These surpassed expectations as the models were trending downward leading up to this storm. Quiet weather this week and next weekend, with a possible storm early next week.

Good afternoon USW fans! I am currently on the road so I’m going to keep this one short. In summary, snow started just after the 5 am reports yesterday and fell steadily all day and most of the night. For one of the first times this season, BCC slightly outperformed LCC as Solitude and Brighton came away with 22 and 21 inches respectively. Winds were generally out of the W with slight variability between canyons.

Solitude Honeycomb Peak wind speed and direction for the period Sunday 2 pm MST to Monday 2 pm MST, courtesy of MesoWest
Hidden Peak wind speed and direction for the period Sunday 2 pm MST to Monday 2 pm MST, courtesy of Mesowest.

As you can see, winds were WNW at Snowbird and WSW at Solitude, which is why BCC was able to keep pace with LCC. Often times, post frontal winds switch to the NW and BCC is shut out, but this AR moisture stream from California was perfectly oriented to deliver in both canyons. There was also good spillover with Park City and Deer Valley reporting healthy totals. Sunday snow varied in density with Alta reporting 10-15% throughout the day and 2-7% overnight (numbers are from hourly density reports on Alta.com). Nice to have a right side up storm after all that dense crap last week.

Sadly I am out of town and I am unable to test the product, but based on the numbers it looks prime time. Feel free to post pictures and comment on this post with condition reports. We always like hearing about your experiences skiing The Greatest Snow on Earth.

Another story for today was congestion. By the looks of things, it was a day to head up LCC pre closure. Brighton and Solitude filled up early and for those of you up there now I’m sure it will be a long trip down this evening. Travel safe.

Long Range: Not much to talk about. We’ll be dry through at least next weekend. Long range models show a system moving through next Monday, but its too early for details. Stay tuned to USW, keep an eye on the models, and think snow.

Tanner Visnick


A Break

Snow will continue on and off throughout the night adding another several inches to totals. So far, although we don’t have many reports yet, it appears that most resorts have done fairly well. The Alta-Collins sensor is currently reporting a storm total of 13″ and should end up near 18″ by tomorrow morning.

For the first time in while high pressure will take control for several days. Sunny skies and gradually moderating temperatures will be the trend throughout the week. It’ll be relatively cool in the mountains to start the week with highs only in the lower teens on Tuesday. By Friday, temperatures should eclipse the freezing mark as we close out the week with comfortable, bluebird conditions

Although details remain very uncertain at this point, the next storm looks like it’ll impact the region as we head into Sunday and Monday of next week. Enjoy the fresh snow and sunny skies!

Rollin’ on the (Atmospheric) River

TL;DR: Snow on tap tonight thanks to a stream of moisture making its way from NorCal.

Short-Term Forecast:

Saturday night (tonight) into Sunday, widespread precipitation is expected across Northern Utah. This is due to a phenomenon called an “atmospheric river” (AR), which is currently nosing its way into Northern California. If you don’t know what an AR is, I included a handy dandy little diagram produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

North America from space. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. https://www.noaa.gov/stories/what-are-atmospheric-rivers

This AR will bring ample moisture to the area, allowing mountain snow and valley rain to persist through the day on Sunday. To illustrate this potent moisture stream associated with the AR, check out the mid-level relative humidity forecast from the GFS model, valid tomorrow at 11 am. See the narrow band of high rh values off the coast of CA? That’s the AR!

Along with lots of moisture, ARs are also typically accompanied by strong winds, especially near crest level. Tomorrow, expect wind gusts to reach 50 mph at the highest points in the Wasatch. Winds will be westerly, with sustained speeds around 30 mph. Be sure to watch for lift or tram closures, especially if they are on the upper half of the mountain.

Snow to liquid ratios won’t be crazy high like we have seen in some storms this month, but they should start around 10:1 (this is the typical SLR value) and potentially increase to about 15:1 as the event winds down.

According to the latest Short-Range Ensemble Forecast (SREF), the heaviest snowfall rates will begin early tomorrow morning and persist through the early afternoon.

Expect storm total accumulations of 10-15″ in the Cottonwoods, 6-12″ for Odgen area resorts, and 5-10″ for Park City area resorts

SREF forecasts of snowfall for Alta Collins


Love is in the Atmosphere

TL;DR. Mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures in the mountains today. There is another significant storm expected to impact the Wasatch front early Sunday morning.

Nowcast: Mostly sunny skies will prevail today bringing highs in the 30s for the ski resorts. There are light winds and it looks like a great day to enjoy the outdoors. There is currently a ridge to our west and a trough to our north, leaving us in a holding pattern before the next storm. If you can’t find a date you should just go skiing.

Short-Term Forecast: Tomorrow, a northwest flow aloft will move into the region bringing clouds and a slight chance of flurries in the mountains. No major accumulations are expected during the day tomorrow. If you can’t find someone to love today, you’ll love this: tomorrow night, a plume of moisture moves into the area and organized precipitation will start to impact the Wasatch front into Sunday morning and persist into Monday. Accumulations totals with this storm through Monday could be upwards of 15 inches for the Cottonwoods that are favored by the westerly flow. Here is a look at the moisture plume that is expected to impact the area early Sunday morning, and model runs for Collins in Alta.

Long-Term Forecast: This upcoming storm is expected to impact the mountains through the long weekend, but lingering accumulations on Tuesday have not been ruled out. Utah seems to be sitting in an active pattern to follow this storm, but for now enjoy the new snow to come and the love in the air. 


Shaping up real nice.

Friday we will have a weak system move over the region which could drive some light snowfall over the mountains but nothing really to note. Sunday we will be hit with storm that is shaping up to be quite powerful which is great because campus is closed Monday!

Short Term:
We can sum up my feelings about Friday’s system with this picture:

Let’s talk about the system on Sunday/Monday.

What are the ingredients we need to see some decent snowfall in the Wasatch?

  • Dynamics
  • Moisture
  • Flow in the right direction
  • Terrain

As this weak system ejects to the east Friday and Saturday another system will begin to develop and slide across the western U.S. As this feature moves, it will amplify and help increase upper dynamics to create an environment for snow to flourish through the life cycle of this trough.

The image above is from the GFS Ensemble which suggests the axis of the upper level trough somewhere over the Idaho and Utah border Sunday evening.

We have dynamics. How about moisture?

Along with this system, the ridge over the east Pacific is steering moisture back into our region:

Wind direction appears to have a little more of a westerly component but still in the right area to interact with the terrain to help drive snowfall.

Temperatures aloft will be quite warm before the front moves over the region with the Euro deterministic suggesting -4 C and GFS deterministic with -6 C at mountaintop levels.  Both models however agree that come Monday morning, we will be facing -15 C at mountaintop levels.

So back to our ingredient list! We have…

  • Dynamics (Associated with the trough moving over the region)
  • Moisture (some moisture from the tropical pacific being steered into the region)
  • Flow (Westerly becoming NW Flow at mountain Top height)
  • Terrain (Nice big mountains for the juicy flow to interact with)
  • Warm-moving-to-Cold-Temperatures aloft during this systems life

I think we can now make sense of the NAEFS plumes to understand that Sunday to Tuesday will be another round of great snowfall accumulations in the mountains starting Sunday and lasting until Monday evening!

-Thanks for reading! Andy


Current Webcam from Snowbird.com showing some fat flakes falling.

TL;DR: Currently snowing in the Cottonwoods with an inch or two picked up since yesterday. Continued NW flow until a quick warmup Thursday into Friday before this weekend’s storm moves in with moderate-significant accumulation possible through Presidents’ Day.

Short-Term: It’s been a cloudy and snowy Wednesday with moisture and some instability within the 700-800mb levels. Clouds and associated light snow should persist through Thursday morning before clearing leaving us with what looks to be a perfect afternoon and Friday morning. Temperatures should remain comfortable up on the hill and winds shouldn’t be an issue until Friday night.

WRF-NMM via Tropical Tidbits through Friday afternoon showing warming and clearing at crest-height associated with the passing upper-level shortwave ridge through Thursday and Friday morning before things start to get interesting.

Long-Term: Lots of uncertainty in the timing and amounts associated with this weekend’s storm so I really won’t even go into it. I’ll leave that to the succeeding forecasters that will have a better shot at nailing down the details. Something to keep in mind as you’re planning for this weekend is the IKON blackout dates associated with the holiday.

NAEFS giving an idea of what we can expect through Monday. Spread is pretty wide in what models are giving us right now, but nonetheless, something to look forward to as we get closer.
The SREF from weather.utah.edu only just starting to pick up the time frame of the incoming storm system, timing from various members are varying greatly so far. Forecasting what will come for Monday should start to become more transparent on Friday.
Center for Western Weather and Water extremes NCEP GFS vertical transport lining us up for a wet weekend along most of the North-Western quadrant of the U.S..

Thanks for reading, enjoy the skiing.

-Trent S. Parker

Powder for the Presidents

This is going to be another short post, because I’ve got a lot of work to do, and the forecast is boring. We will have mostly cool and dry weather until Friday, when a weak storm is possible. The latter part of the holiday weekend is what I’m watching more closely. A stronger trough will dig into the intermountain west, bringing the chance for more significant snow. It’s too early for details, but the potential exists for a good powder day Sunday or Monday. It looks like there could be some warming prior to the event, which could screw things up. Some crust at mid elevations from the last mess could also provide some snowpack issues moving forward too. Anyway, here are the NAEFS plumes for Alta for the next 7 days, which show the dry weather until Friday, the likely weak storm, and the possibility of more significant accumulations later in the weekend. Hopefully it turns out better than the last one.


Bluebird Days

I hope you all are enjoying a beautiful bluebird day up in the mountains! I skied at Brighton yesterday and while the snow wasn’t excellent on northern aspects, it was a great day to get outside and enjoy some sunshine.

Current conditions:

Skies are currently mostly sunny throughout much of northern Utah and will stay mostly clear until tomorrow night. Temperatures in the valley are in the upper 30s with temperatures up the canyons in the upper teens and low 20s. Mesowest stations indicate light flow from the north or northwest throughout much of the central Wasatch.

Short-term forecast:

An upper-level trough continues to move through the western U.S. through Tuesday, with a short-wave trough (a smaller trough that is typically associated with unsettled weather) moving through Utah overnight Monday. Unfortunately, this is a pretty dry system, so we can expect just some cloudy skies but not much, if anything, in terms of precipitation. If you’re looking for some powder, you might want to head south to Arizona or New Mexico. The SREF ensemble mean is indicating 10-15 inches for the Arizona Snowbowl and Taos.

Graphic courtesy of Tropical Tidbits. Valid 06Z Tuesday (11pm MST Monday).

Long-term forecast:

A ridge builds in after Monday, bringing clear skies and moderate temperatures to the region before another potential disturbance at the end of the work week. Stay tuned for more!
– Julie