No End in Sight!

Posted Sunday, December 26th, 2021 by Clinton Alden

TL;DR: 

Have you ever wondered what it might be like if it started snowing and then never stopped? This storm cycle might be the closest we get to this dream. Multiple storms impacting Utah this upcoming week with continued unsettled weather through the New Year. First Storm on tap comes through Sunday morning with another to follow on Tuesday.

Current Conditions: 

Temperatures are chilly out there after the cold front moves through ranging from 20 near the base of Park City to 4 degrees near the top of Alta Ski Area at Mount Baldy. Wind will be the name of the game today with sustained gusts of 60 to 70 mph near crest level. Many lifts will see wind holds throughout the day. Some notable lifts on wind hold as of Sunday morning are Peruvian at Snowbird, Orange Bubble at Canyons, and all lifts off Little Baldy Peak and Bald Mountain at Deer Valley. Traction Law is in effect for the Cottonwood Canyons. If you are planning on heading out into the backcountry, please read the avalanche forecast at the Utah Avalanche Center and stay safe!

24 hour Snow Totals:

4-7” on the Wasatch Back

2-3” in Little Cottonwood Canyon

2-3” in Big Cottonwood

Short Term Forecast: 


Loop showing 500mb heights and anomalies from 5 pm MST December 22 through 11 am MST December 29. Source?

A long wave trough of low pressure has been sitting off the West Coast of the United States, ejecting smaller storms into the Intermountain West. A short wave trough of low pressure is moving through Utah this morning bringing with it heavy mountain snow.

In the image above, 500mb heights and anomalies are shown. 500 millibar heights are the level above sea level at which the 500 millibar pressure level is found. Because of a fundamental equation of our atmosphere (which I will spare you all the headache of diving into here), lower heights are associated with low pressure and thus unsettled weather. The blue regions indicate anomalously low pressure. In simple terms, blue generally represents storms and snow in this graphic.

This specific storm will provide most of its snow through large-scale forcing rather than the upslope flow after the cold frontal passage that we see with many storms in winter in the Wasatch. In practical terms, the bulk of this snow should come between 4 am MST and 12 pm MST Sunday. Snow showers look to taper off by the afternoon everywhere but over the high terrain of the Central Wasatch where light flurries can be expected through the afternoon. 


Visible satellite imagery showing thick cloud cover associated with this most recent storm over Northern Utah. Source

Long Term Forecast:

As mentioned earlier, the streak of active weather in the West continues. After this first storm moves out, a second one quickly takes its place with snow ramping back up Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning. We then might see about a 48-hour break in heavy precipitation Tuesday afternoon through Thursday with a third storm moving into Utah on Friday. Be sure to check back here frequently as we will go more in-depth on the upcoming storms as they get closer! 


NAEFS Downscaled Plume Model Guidance for Alta Ski Area through the New Year. Please keep in mind this graph is not a forecast but just interesting to see how the active pattern continues. Source

Snow Forecast through Monday Morning

8-12” for Park City and Deer Valley

10-14” for Big Cottonwood Resorts (Solitude and Brighton)

10-16” for Little Cottonwood Resorts (Alta and Snowbird)

Hope everyone can get out and make some turns for me as I am out of town missing all the new snow. Happy Holidays everyone and stay safe!

-Clinton Alden

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