Break from Warm Weather: Snowfall Forecast

Posted Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 by usw_admin

TLDR: Calm and warm weather this week takes a break while a cold front brings light or moderate snowfall to Utah resorts. Scroll to the bottom for a snowfall forecast.

A Break from Spring

So it feels like spring down in the valley, and perhaps the up-high equivalent of spring exists too:

Once weather in Utah shifts to a familiar springtime feel does it really go back? Seems so this week. Two systems currently sit over the Pacific and will disrupt the springlike weather we’re having.

GOES-17 CONUS sector true-color imagery, valid 6:32 PM MT to 7:37 PM MT Wednesday, March 27, 2019. Pardon the not so great use of space; I’d spent just about enough time trying to make the full-size loop work to no avail. Otherwise, note two low-pressure systems. The first hovers west of the Pacific Northwest coastline. The second is better-organized and sits over the central Pacific. images courtesy RAMMB/CIRA at Colorado State University

I’ll talk about the first system just off the Pacific Northwest coastline in this post. The other stays in the Pacific until at least the next work week.

You might have noticed cloud cover building overnight last night and throughout the day today; you can see the recent increase in cloud cover in the satellite clip. The storm itself is a cold front that is now reforming and strengthening over central California. The storm moves toward the east-northeast, i.e., Utah, over the next several hours.

Here’s a quick breakdown of its impacts for Utah ski resorts:

Thursday/Friday Storm

Timing: Thursday 3/28 12 PM MT through Friday 3/29 6 PM MT. The heaviest precipitation will fall when the cold front passes around midnight Thursday night.

Temperature: To start, expect a mild kickoff with snow levels at about 6500 feet. Low-altitude bases like Sundance will probably see rain during the first part of this storm. Snow levels fall to 5500 feet by midnight Thursday night, then past 5000 feet by Friday morning. Urban areas will be cold and above freezing during the event. However, expect to drive through a slushy transition zone through much of the canyons.

Wind: Crest-level winds could be somewhat breezy Thursday evening leading toward midnight. Nothing outside of the norm, however, and perhaps even calmer than average winds at resorts. Given the timing and strength, gusts shouldn’t be an issue for skiers.

Precipitation: This is a moderate event for this time of year. I don’t see many locations getting over a foot of snowfall and parts of the lowest-elevations among Utah ski resorts might not see any accumulating snow. Here are the ranges of snowfall possibilities according to the GFS ensemble:

Subjective snowfall forecast for resorts in northern UT.

The break from warm weather ends before the next work week. Mild weather then seems to continue into the foreseeable future.

Enjoy the snow


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