Another Snowy Saturday

Posted Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 by Julie Cunningham

TL;DR: Snow showers accompanied a frontal passage this morning, with light snow continuing in the mountains for much of the day today. Additional post-frontal accumulations in the central Wasatch are likely another inch or so. Next chance of snow is Friday into Saturday morning, with 5-8″ expected in LCC.

Nowcast: A cold frontal passage brought snow showers to the mountains and the valley this morning, to the joy of many skiers and snowboarders (including myself). I was able to get out to do my own “research” at Brighton before noon, and while it wasn’t a crazy powder day, it was a good day for a refresh and some runs through seemingly banded snow showers. If you’re looking for some packed powder runs, tomorrow seems to be a great day for it, too.

Brighton, 2/3/21

While this storm didn’t bring quite as much snow as we had hoped, it sure helped to refresh the snow conditions and prepare for a potentially larger storm this weekend. Below is a meteogram of the Alta-Collins site. As the front passed through roughly around 8am MST, temperatures dropped from the mid-20s to the mid-teens by this evening. That’s a drop from a toasty 39 degrees yesterday afternoon. I also annotated the snow depths at two times, indicating roughly 5 inches accumulated at Alta today. Not amazing, but not horrible!

Data and graphic courtesy of Mesowest.

We still seem to be in the post-frontal region, so perhaps we get another inch or so overnight from the current northwesterly flow and maybe a bit of instability in the higher elevations. It looks pretty chilly up the canyons, too, with temperatures in the low teens at base elevations, and in the single digits further up. Winds are still gusting at ridgetop elevations at 40-50 mph, so it’s probably a pretty cold night if you’re doing some night skiing.

Short-term: Snow showers in the canyons will likely taper off around mid-morning tomorrow as the upper-level trough advects to the east. We’ll get a short break in the snow before a weak shortwave trough brings a bit more precipitation to northern Utah. There’s plenty of moisture in this system, but the dynamic forcings are a bit lacking for us to get a major powder day. Still, it should still be a decent day to get out into the mountains.

Below is a temporal and vertical view of the atmosphere. If you haven’t seen this graphic before, time increases to the left along the x-axis, and height increases along the y-axis. Green shading indicates high relative humidity, with instability in the red contours. You can really see the moisture in the lower levels, which may help with snow totals.

Courtesy of University of Utah Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Overall, I anticipate this shortwave trough bringing 5-8″ to Little Cottonwood Canyon through Saturday morning, and a bit less to Big Cottonwood Canyon, around 4-7″. I do hope that my colleague who writes tomorrow can bring some better news, but it doesn’t seem like this will end up being a raging powder day. Even so, be sure to get up early enough to make it up the canyons!

Long-term: Luckily, it looks like we’re in a relatively active pattern. After a short dry period, the GFS model is indicating another potential storm mid-week, and perhaps another one by the weekend. Maybe we can continue this streak of Saturday snow? Stay tuned for more.
– Julie

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