Well the resorts are starting to close up, this Sunday is Alta's closing celebration. It will close for the coming week and reopen for April 25th and 26th, and there may be some more snow that weekend, but that's a little far out to forecast. For the festivities this weekend, however, most would prefer some warm sun and corn snow, which up until the recent storm seemed all but guaranteed.
Now that chance seems to be up in the air, with other forecasting websites and the NWS suggesting a chance of storms and cloud cover. I'll use this forecast to talk about why we'll still see the sun on Sunday at Alta. The GFS is showing instability developing at ridge top levels over the weekend. This is due to advection of cold air from the North running over relatively warmer air lower down. This should encourage turbulence and gusty winds. However, without a significant source of moisture, this instability cannot do more than create a few scattered clouds. Some of those clouds may grow large enough to produce some light snow over small regions for short amounts of time. More likely they will produce precipitation that evaporates, causing cold downdrafts which will be eperienced as strong gusts of wind by skiers.
So all in all we don't expect clear blue skies but still plenty of chances to see the sun between beautiful scattered cumulus clouds. It may get windy and cold for a moment under a cloud, but then it will be back to the sunshine.
Well, my forecast back on Monday of 8-16" in the Upper Cottonwoods busted pretty badly, but I'm not too upset about it because it busted on the low side. Moist northwestery flow following Tuesday's cold front, and some likely periods of lake-enhancment (especially at Snowbird), produced some Cottonwoods Magic yesterday. We haven't seen any of this magic since January, so it was really nice to see a storm go crazy over the upper canyon and produce way more snow than anticipated.
The snowfall totals through this morning include 44" at Snowbird, 32" at Alta-Collins, 22" at Brighton, and 7" at PCMR. To add to the awesomeness, the cold atmospheric temperatures kept the water content of the snow quite low, so the "Greatest Snow on Earth" was back in Utah yesterday. Jeff, Trey, and I skied at Snowbird yesterday, and the conditions were incredible...some of the deepest snow I've skied there from a 1-day storm.
Anyway, this is a forecasting website, so some of you probably want to know when/if it's going to snow again! That's a good question. Occasional snow showers will continue in the mountains through tonight, and then skies look to clear somewhat for Friday and Saturday...although the storm to our east will continue to affect us with some clouds. Temps will be much warmer though, so go get the fresh snow today before the April sun puts a crust on it. I mean it...the snow will not be light and fluffy for long with the high sun angle this time of year. Sunday it looks like a weak shortwave will move through, bringing some showers to the mountains, and beyond that we will warm up and dry out.
So enjoy the brief return to winter while you can!
I don't know what it was like up on the mountain today - I got to experience the wonders of a fine Spring frontal passage in the valley, with all of the associated lake stink and particulates (values that rivalled even the gnarliest of Chinese metropolises). I do know that it's been snowing down in the valley for a couple hours, which means conditions have to be even better up in the mountains. The stations in Little Cottonwood (Collins Lift, Snowbird) have come in with about 4" so far, with snow continuing to fall as I type this. The models like the idea of continued snowfall through the overnight hours and into the day tomorrow. I still feel good about snowfall totals ending up in the 8-16" range, with variance based primarily on the length of continued snowfall through the day tomorrow. Regarless, it should be a solid day tomorrow - possibly the last good day of the season for most areas, so get out there and rip it!
But since this is a forecast, I should probably give you something beyond the next 18 hours. Well, it doesn't look like it's going to be as warm as it has been, with partly cloudy skies and off-and-on northwest flow moderating temperatures a bit. The next system looks to be around a week out...so not much to report there. At that point, only Alta (for another weekend) and Snowbird will continue to be open...and it doesn't look all that together, so...um...yeah. Enjoy the freshies tomorrow! Ski fast, take chances!
It appears that the atmosphere has a sick sense of humor this year, as a strong, cold storm system will roll into Northern Utah tomorrow afternoon/evening. For the resorts that are still open (PCMR, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird) and those willing to earn their turns in the backcountry, this storm has the potential to bring a nice little April powder day on Wednesday.
A strong cold front will blast into the Salt Lake Valley sometime tomorrow afternoon, with gusty winds and a burst of heavy precipitation along the front. Precip will begin as rain in the valley, but the transition to snow should be fairly quick with such a sharp cold front. The resorts may see a a brief rain at the lower bases with the leading edge of the front, but the transition to snow will be rapid, and snow will begin stacking up quickly. The post-frontal airmass will remain fairly juicy through Wedsnesday afternoon/evening with a favorable wind direction for heavy snow in the Cottonwoods. It even looks like there is a decent probability of an area or band of lake-effect snow forming Tuesday night and lasting into Wednesday morning. This may affect the Cottonwoods during some periods (and increase snowfall totals), but position and intensity of lake-effect is very tough to forecast. The snow will be of fairly low density after the frontal passage, so expect blower pow to top off a right-side-up snowfall.
Needless to say, despite my overall lack of skiing morale right now, I'm excited about this storm. With the low density snow falling, we'll need a lot to cover up the crust that will be underneath, but I'm optimistic we can get there. For snowfall amounts through Wednesday night, I'll go with 8-16" for the Cottonwood resorts, and 4-9" at PCMR.
Let's hope my forecast verifies on the high side, because none of us got enough powder days this year.
A last gasp of the storm in the wee hours last night boosted the storm total snowfall to 10 inches at Alta and Snowbird. Brighton and Solitude were just a few inches behind. The Park City side didn't get much, with 1-5 inches reported. I would expect that only at high elevation in the upper Cottonwoods might there beenough snow to stay off the underlying crust. Anything not high and north facing will likely be crusty tomorrow.
Conditions this weekend look marginal with a trough brushing by to the north. Some wind, some clouds, no new snow. The high elevation areas might have a tough time softening up on Saturday.
While I wish I could share Matt L's optimism on the trough coming in next Tuesday, it looks like it might bring alot more wind and dust than snow. There could indeed be a really nice cold frontal passage, but only a true weather nerd will appreciate that. My best guess right now is that we would see at most 10 inches, with much less on the Park City side. A significant caveat with snow amountsis that with temperatures as cold behind the front as current model have them, lake-effect snow is a possibility. A with lake-effect we often can't forecast it well 2 hourse before it starts, let alone 6 days.
In other news, only 3 of 10 long-term snow measurement stations in the Wasatch are NOT at a record low snowpack. Alta looks very likely to set a record for the worst snow season on record there. Hey, a bad year in Utah is still better than a good year almost anywhere else!