Welcome to the 2016/17 Winter Season!

Welcome back! I think I can speak for everyone in saying that after enduring the 2nd hottest summer on record in SLC, and some respectable October snowstorm teases, we are all ready for the return of winter in the Wasatch. I’ve got my new backcountry setup mounted and waxed, pass purchased, most of my gear in order. I still need to purchase some new gloves following some unfortunate events at the Redbull Schlittentag this past spring…but that’s not important. You probably wanna know when winter is coming!

The answer, unfortunately, is “not for a while.” We’ll likely see some rain this weekend, and temps will be cold enough for a dusting on the peaks. And on Monday we could see some accumulating snow up high. Unfortunately though, this will likely not be enough to ski on, and a MONSTER ridge of high pressure is being advertised in both the EC and GFS models for mid and late next week. This would mean warm temperatures through the end of the week and potentially beyond.

This is what misery looks like. A MONSTER ridge over the Western US for next week:


So, keep the mountain bike in good working order for a little while longer. I’ll be posting regular updates here every few days until the snow comes back, and then you can expect to hear from the USW crew every day.

We look forward to keeping you ahead of the powder days this winter!

Thanks for Another Great Season

Even though Snowbird will be open for another month, and the backcountry will be skiable for even longer, the season is over for our forecasts here at USW. Despite the warm and dry February/March we had, it was a pretty good season by my standards. There were some great pow days in December and January, and it is STILL snowing a lot up high. In fact April has seen way more precipitation in the Wasatch than any other month this year. So it goes sometimes with mountain weather…sometimes mother nature waits to start dumping snow until you’re ready to bust out the shorts and t-shirt.

Thanks again for another great season and thank you for your support! We love mountain weather and skiing, and we love sharing our knowledge with you all. See you next season!

Last Gasps of Ski Season

An upper-level low swept across Utah today, dropping temperatures as well as a few inches of late season snow in the Wasatch. As Ian mentioned, temperatures crept up to near 80 degrees in the valley, and today topped out in the mid to low 50s.. Quite the change, much to spring-lovers’ dismay.

Alta and Snowbird are the only two resorts still hanging on this season, but luckily they were able to grab a few inches of dust on the crust to soften conditions for the dedicated late season skiers. Alta received 5″ of new snow today while Snowbird ended up 3″. Not too bad for late April!

Tomorrow is Alta closing day, and their infamous High Boy ski party. Temperatures should recover to the low 40’s with partial sunshine and a moderate west wind.

Monday we will see our next chance of the good stuff with 2-6″ possible through Tuesday evening. A chance of showers will linger the rest of the work week.


UPDATE 1:30 am: 12″ at Alta Collins. A few more inches expected.

Warm before the storm

On the roof of our building here on campus we hit a max temperature of 78.1 F at 3 pm and a winds gusting to 30 MPH basically constantly since 11 am. Meanwhile Alta base is melting with a max temp holding constant around 58 F from 2 pm to 4 pm. Ridgetop winds there are gusting to 40 MPH. Dust picked up from our desert lands have reduced visibility at the airport to 8 miles at times; not a sandstorm, but quite noticeable.

Current water vapor observations from satellite show that if all of the water vapor suspended behind the front precipitated out it would be 0.5″ to 1.5″ of liquid, just the right amount higher than than precip predicted by the GFS and ECMWF models, so we remain on track with our forecast of 5″ – 10″ of snow from the Saturday storm. The national weather service predicts the cold front will hit the Wasatch front around 6 am tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and the models predict highest precipitation rates around noon.

This means it will be cold, windy, with fresh snow on the ground for Alta’s closing day celebrations on Sunday. Still a fun day, just maybe hold off on the Borat costume.

And all this is just the first wave, another very similar storm should impact us on through the day on Tuesday this week as well.

Another Shot of Winter

Today, we saw 80s in the valley, and 64 degrees F up at Alta’s base. After another warm and windy day tomorrow, winter returns. If you’re planning on rocking some cut-off jean shorts for the resort festivities this weekend, best of luck to you.

From late Friday night to Saturday morning, we’ll see ridge-level temperatures drop from about 45 F to about 25 F in association with the approaching trough. It might be late in the season, but an active pattern in the forecast looks to bring cold temperatures and snowfall throughout next week.

From Saturday morning to Sunday morning, both the EC and GFS call for up to 1” of liquid precipitation. At these temperatures, we’ll likely see 5-10 inches by Sunday morning in the Cottonwoods, with snow levels around 7k feet.

Moving forward, it looks like this weekend will just be a taste for what’s to continue between Monday and Wednesday. Cold temperatures and enough moisture should make for a consistent delivery of mild to moderate snowfall totals, particularly for this time of year. For now, the fat lady remains mute.

Storm on the Way!

Things are going to get toasty this week as a strong high pressure system settles into the Great Basin.Temperatures in the upper 50’s are expected throughout the week until our next storm moves in. So, if you’re looking to get some good spring skiing in, defintely try and get out before the weekend!

The next storm begins to move into Utah on Saturday, transitioning into much cooler temperatures. As far as moisture goes, the forecast is looking promising. We could be getting some decent snow totals for this late in the season. As we get closer to the event, we’ll have a better idea of how much snow could fall. Until then, take advantage of the beautiful, warm weather this week, as colder temperatures and precipitation return this weekend.

Wandering Low

If you were up skiing this weekend, you may have noticed the chilly temps and unusual easterly wind direction. This was thanks to a cutoff low pressure system wandering around Colorado and Utah, which will continue to wander around for another day or so before lifting off to the west. This means one more day of cools temps and occasional clouds before the heat is on once again.

Bluebird days and increasingly warm temps can be expected Wednesday through Friday, but then a rather unimpressive storm will likely bring clouds and showers for the weekend. I got a little cold up at Alta in my costume on Sunday, so if you plan to attend the final festivities of the season you’ll want to keep an eye on the weekend storm.

Late Spring Weather

As Trey pointed out, this week will feature warm and dry conditions across the entire state. Temperatures will approach 80 in the valley and 60 up in the mountains, leading to some great spring/summer conditions. The models show the next weather system approaching the region this weekend, which is way too far out for any details. Whether you decide to ski or bike, enjoy the weather in the mountains!

Mid week Multi-sport

After slightly cooler conditions to start this week things look prime for spring skiing heading into midweek as temperatures warm. Get it and maybe some biking too! Otherwise no significant storms to speak of through the late week timeframe.

Late-Season Snow on the Way

Valley temperatures have been a pleasant 10 degrees F above normal for the past 6 days, but we can expect a much different atmosphere through the weekend. We’ll see scattered showers and potentially thunderstorms across Utah today and tomorrow ahead of a longwave trough. It is likely that all but the high peaks of Wasatch will see precipitation in the form of rain before mid-day Thursday, when the cold air mass is expected to arrive in the form of a defined front.

Both the EC and NAM have around .25” of liquid falling before the front, and I’m hesitant to believe the ~1” that the GFS is calling for. The EC and GFS call for about .75” with the front during the day Thursday, while the NAM is much more conservative. On Friday, light accumulations seem likely in the afternoon. With snow:liquid ratios around 10:1, except relatively wet and dense snow.

Considering the warmth of this storm and that the models are trending towards less precipitation, I’ll bring totals down a bit and predict 4-8 inches for the Cottonwoods by Friday morning, with light accumulations possible on Friday. I’d expect accumulations to be closer to 4” at lower elevations (~8000ft) and closer to 8” up high. I’m seeing some substantially larger totals being advertised by other sources, but I personally don’t see it. That said, I won’t be disappointed if my forecast busts low.