Closed Low Snow

Posted Thursday, March 11th, 2021 by Julie Cunningham

TL;DR: 3-6″ in the Cottonwoods/PC, 7-11″ at Brian Head through Saturday. Brief pause before another storm system on Tuesday.

Nowcast: Despite a warmer than average start to the month, more seasonable temperatures remain across the Salt Lake Valley and the Wasatch, with temperatures currently in the mid- to upper-30s across the valley, and the upper-20s near resort base elevation. Snow showers are scattered across the state, with off-and-on showers here in the valley and more persistent snowfall in the mountains.

Courtesy of College of DuPage.

A closed low located over southern California and the Great Basin is providing the moisture and dynamics for these snow showers, and is expected to continue to provide these two ingredients for snowfall over the next day or so as it moves slowly to the southeast and inland. This is the same closed low that’s bringing a huge snowstorm to the Front Range, as you may have heard!

Steep lapse rates from this morning’s sounding and a bit of diurnal heating are both providing excellent mechanisms for daytime convection, as I saw just an hour ago here in the valley with the passage of a snow shower with huge snowflakes. Up in the mountains, the Alta-Collins site has received roughly 5 inches of snow this afternoon, with a bit more to come.

Short-term: An upper-level trough will continue to dig equatorward across the southwestern US as the closed low continues to move slowly to the east, bringing more snow to the higher elevations through late Saturday. Precipitation will lull briefly overnight tonight, but scattered showers will pick back up with a bit of diurnal heating tomorrow.

Despite excellent dynamics with this storm system, winds from this storm will be primarily from the southeast, which isn’t great for the Cottonwoods. Still, the Cottonwoods and the Park City side will receive roughly 3-6″ from this storm, which is much needed after the warm weather last weekend. The Uintas and Central Mountains of Utah will receive the most from this storm, with Brian Head receiving an estimated 7-11″.

Long-term: After a brief pause in the action on Sunday into Monday, it looks like our next chance for snow is on Tuesday morning as another amplified trough moves into the region. Let’s hope we continue with this active pattern and avoid a persistent ridge; the season isn’t over yet!
– Julie

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