New Year, New Snow!

Posted Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 by Julie Cunningham

TL;DR: Storm totals of 25-30″ in LCC, 18-22″ in BCC, 12-16″ for Park City/Deer Valley. High avy danger expected due to new snow and high winds at higher elevations. High pressure moves into the region for the weekend.

Happy New Years! I hope you all are as stoked as I am for this fresh powder to ring in the new decade. Let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with.

Nowcast:

An upper level trough is currently digging into the southwestern U.S., bringing snow and strong high-elevation winds to northern Utah. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning until 11pm tonight. Avalanche danger is on the rise today, with the Utah Avalanche Center expecting high avalanche danger conditions due to new snow and high winds. Perhaps tomorrow is a day for resort skiing instead of the backcountry. If you do choose to venture out beyond resort lines, be prepared and have a plan. Be aware that the Utah Avalanche Center does not recommend travel in terrain with high avalanche danger.

So far, Alta has received 6″ with this storm, with still plenty more to come.

Image courtesy of Alta Ski Area

Winds near the summits will be pretty gusty from the WNW, with 700-mb (~10,000 ft ASL) winds near 40-50 kts overnight, and near 20-30 kts tomorrow with gusts near 40 kts. Winds are from the south at the surface, but will turn to more westerly by this evening.

This storm is bringing a good amount of moisture from the Pacific, as shown in this IVT forecast valid for 2pm today. IVT or integrated vapor transport represents the amount of moisture in an atmospheric column being transported. Higher IVT is a good sign for more snow!

Graphic courtesy of CW3E, Scripps, and UC San Diego

Short-term forecast, snow totals:

Snow will continue throughout the night with the majority ending by noon tomorrow. We might still expect some lingering snow showers in the mountains until evening. The NAEFS ensemble mean is showing about 30 inches of snow at Alta-Collins by 00Z Saturday (5pm Friday), while the SREF ensemble mean is estimating about 25 inches of snow. So, we can expect storm totals of25-30″ in Little Cottonwood, 18-22″ in Big Cottonwood, and 12-16″ at Park City/Deer Valley. I might be a little too optimistic for Park City, but strong summit winds could cause a bit of spillover, adding a couple inches to snow totals there.

Graphic courtesy of University of Utah
Graphic courtesy of University of Utah

Long-term forecast:

High pressure will move into the region starting Friday, so it’s looking like the weekend will be pretty quiet. Let’s hope next week brings more snow!
– Julie

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