Big Spread for Sunday’s Storm

Posted Thursday, February 27th, 2020 by Tanner Visnick

TL; DR Its been a quiet week with increasing temperatures following the passage of a cold front Sunday night. Temperatures will approach 60 on Saturday before a trough descends from Washington to California, bringing 5-15 inches of snow to the Wasatch. Additional light snow possible Tuesday into Wednesday, then we dry out and warm up heading into next weekend and the University of Utah spring break!

Good morning USW readers. I hope y’all have been enjoying the warm weather. I’ve taken it as an opportunity to explore around on my skinny skis. The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA) grooms up SR 65 to the top of Big Mountain Pass. I tried this for the first time Sunday evening, and went back again yesterday evening. For those looking for some Nordic skiing adventuring, I highly recommend it as the views are tremendous.

This morning temperatures are 10-20 ? in upper mountain valleys and at ridgeline. Winds are 10-30 mph at ridgeline and generally out of the northwest.

7 am temperatures courtesy of MesoWest

Short term: we’ll continue to warm up through Saturday with temperatures approaching 60 in Salt Lake. Temps in the mountains will be considerably colder, but we’ll still get above freezing. Below are time heights for Alta Collins showing the freezing level ~725 mb on Saturday. This means eastern, western, and especially southern aspects will be crusty on Sunday morning after the front passes.

Time Heights from Alta Collins, courtesy of the University of Utah

On Sunday, a cut off low centered to our southwest will impact our region. The low will move southeast from Washington State and strengthening over southern California. As it moves south, a band of snow will cross Utah and bring moderate snow to the Wasatch for a 24 hour period from Saturday night through Sunday night. As you can see, the spread in the SREF members is still bonkers.

SREF Plumes for Alta Collins for 09Z 2020-02-27

However, the NAEFS plumes have started to come to a consensus that this will be a moderate storm with a median ~10 inches at Alta, with most members falling in the 8-15 inch range.

NAEFS plumes for Alta Collins for 00Z 2020-02-27

Sunday will be a storm skiing day with a couple inches expected before the resorts open and a couple more during the day. Expect forecast amounts and timing to change, but as of right now I’d expect 8-12 in LCC, 5-10 in BCC, and 3-6 east of the crest. Temps will be moderate, so snow ratios should be ~10:1, with higher ratios in LCC and lower east of the crest. Remembers, temperatures will be very warm on Saturday so Sunday morning will likely be dust on crust. If the timing does not change, the best skiing on Sunday will be in the afternoon after more snow has covered up the crusty surface layer. So if you want to avoid the morning mayhem, consider sleeping in, having a chill morning, and leaving later.

Long Range: another system is expected Tuesday-Wednesday with moderate totals. The Euro is on board, but the GFS shows little to no snow so I’ll be rooting for the Euro next week. After Wednesday, conditions will be perfect for working on that goggle tan (or sunglass tan if that’s more your style) as we’ll be dry and warm through the weekend. Stay tuned to USW and happy shredding.

Tanner Visnick


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