Maximum Security; Maximum Insanity

Posted Friday, February 7th, 2020 by Tanner Visnick

Update: most lifts are closed at Park City/Canyons. Solitude is doing its best to open summit. Stay tuned to twitter for mountain ops updates

Good morning Utah skiers and riders. It is full on insanity out there this morning so there’s much to talk about. But first, residents of Alta be like..

Courtesy of Pinterest

But unfortunately for those residents, there’s no skiing/riding in LCC today due to critical avalanche conditions. Multiple slides have buried the road this morning, some as deep as 8-9 feet. Alta is currently under MAXIMUM SECURITY INTER-LODGE until further notice. I haven’t lived in Utah for long, but I have yet to see an event of this magnitude. The reason for these conditions are the insane SWE and snowfall totals LCC has received since Wednesday afternoon. Due to NW flow orographics, LCC has received far more snow than the surrounding area.

Snowfall Totals for the Wasatch since Wednesday, courtesy of NWS

Look at that bullseye at Alta. That is an insane amount of spatial variability over such a short distance. Another big story are the winds. Below is a 24-hour time series at Hidden Peak showing consistently strong winds out of the NW. Some gusts have approached 100 mph so its basically tropical storm conditions at the summit right now.

Hidden Peak 24-hour wind speeds courtesy of MesoWest

Below are 24 hour reports from the Wasatch with all resorts except Alta and Snowbird currently running.

Snowbird: 19, Alta: 17, Snowbasin: 11, Brighton: 10, Deer Valley: 10 , Solitude: 9, Park City: 7, Beaver: 7, Pow Mountain: 3, Sundance: 3.

BCC is open today and heavy traffic is expected. Please please please carpool or take the bus if you’re going up. Now let’s dive into the weather.

Short Term: Heavy snow will continue for the Wasatch throughout the day with continued high winds. The amount of moisture still streaming into Utah is insane. Below is the 0600 UTC GFS IVT forecast. Normally we don’t get appreciable amounts this far inland, but you can see values above 250 kg/m/s as far as New Mexico! You can also see the crazy amount of moisture along the east coast where they are currently experiencing flash flooding and severe weather. Looks like Mother Nature took the Groundhog’s prediction as a challenge to unleash gnarly weather.

Graphic courtesy of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

SREF plumes ensemble average has another 10-15 inches falling at Alta by midday tomorrow (graph starts at 18Z and its currently 3Z). Given the current dynamics, I would not be surprised if we received this much. As for the other resorts, expect another 5-10 in BCC and 3-5 east of the divide.

Alta/Collins SREF Plume from 15Z. Graphic courtesy of University of Utah

That’s all for now folks. Get out and enjoy the gnarliness!

Tanner Visnick


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