Pow Leftovers and Sun

TL;DR: Time to enjoy the sun through the beginning of the week, get the storm leftovers as another refill is in the works for the middle of the week.

Nic Hofmann

Short-Term: There is a high-pressure ridge sitting over Utah that will stick around until the middle of the week. Skiing will be great with clear skies and light breezes Monday. With the high-pressure sitting over us we could see some temperature inversion through the beginning of the week trapping pollutants in the valley. If you’re heading out to the backcountry dangerous avalanche conditions exist, be aware and consult The Utah Avalanche Center for a full avalanche forecast and to read observations from fellow skiers.

Long-Term: Tuesday evening a jet from the North West could bring some snow to Northern Utah. Snow for central Utah is uncertain and depends upon how far South the jet reaches. There is much disagreement amongst the models at this time but this midweek storm could bring 3-12” Northern Utah and maybe the central Wasatch if some shortwave troughs can develop. We will see more high pressure through the end of the week with a trough building off the West coast.   

Total Accumulated Precipitation Valid 00z Thu, Jan 06 2022 – Tropical Tidbits

-Nic Hofmann

Cold with High Avalanche Danger

TL;DR: The last storm cycle brought feet of fresh powder, but avalanche danger will remain high for the next day or two until the snow settles. The next chance for mountain snow will be around Tuesday of next week.

Short-Term: A ridge moving into the region will quickly warm temperatures over the next couple of days. Skies will be mostly clear with breezy conditions, but avalanche danger will remain elevated due to the feet of wet snow we have had over the last week. Backcountry skiers should consult www.utahavalanchecenter.org for more information on avalanche conditions.

Source: Utah Avalanche Center (Red=High Avalanche Danger)

Long-Term: By Tuesday, our ridge will be kicked out of the region by a jet over the Pacific Northwest. Models are indicating that the bulk of the precipitation will be confined to northern Utah, but a slight shift southward shift in the jet would be enough to bring precipitation into central Utah. Right now it’s looking like two shortwaves associated with this jet will impact the region Tuesday through Thursday. It’s difficult to say exactly how much snow to expect, but right now it looks like we should expect 5-10 inches with each wave for ski resorts in northern Utah. Behind this trough, a weak ridge will move in before another wave impacts the region late next week into the weekend.

500 mb Height Anomalies on Wednesday (1/5) at 0Z (Source: Pivotal Weather)

-Matt DeMaria

It’s a Powder Day!

TL;DR: Our much-needed storm cycle comes to an end today, with lingering snow showers in favored areas. A ridge of high pressure will take control to start the new year, bringing rising temperatures and clearing skies.

Nowcast: A strong blast of low-density snowfall brought impressive snow totals and water equivalents to the Wasatch, with the Little Cottonwood Canyon resorts being the winners. Here are 24 hr totals as of 7:30 a.m.:

Snowbird: 26″
Alta: 24″
Solitude: 23″
Brighton: 22″
Deer Valley: 18″
Park City Mountain Resort: 15″

The skiing and riding should be excellent today and this weekend, as resorts throughout the Wasatch have seen consistent snowfall over the past week. I suspect there will be difficulties traveling to the mountains and with terrain openings. Alta has announced an estimated opening time of 11 a.m. this morning.

Short-Term Forecast:

A trough amplifies over our region this evening, bringing the potential for additional accumulations and cool temperatures. Expect additional snow throughout the day and into this evening, before our pattern changes. The Cottonwood Canyon resorts should be favored as the flow shifts to northwesterly.

Source: Tropical Tidbits

Be aware that as this trough digs southward, temperatures will become quite cold. Temperatures at mountain-level will drop below zero and approach the negative teens in spots.

Source: Tropical Tidbits

Mid-Range Forecast: By Saturday evening, the trough will have exited our region, and an upper-level ridge will control the weather pattern to start the new year. From Saturday morning through Tuesday, we’ll see no chances for snowfall, although bluebird skies and all the recent snow will still make for great conditions at the resorts.

Source: Tropical Tidbits

There are hints that by mid-week we’ll see additional chances for snowfall as a low-amplitude trough brushes by our region. Snowfall in this system will be dependent on how far south this trough digs. This event looks to impact northern locations more than areas to the south.

Snowfall Forecast:
Northern Utah: 0-2″
Wasatch: 3-6″ (potentially more due to Lake Effect)
Southern Utah: 3-6″

Enjoy the fantastic skiing and riding!

-Michael Wasserstein

One last blast

TL;DR: Wow, what a week – and it just keeps coming! This storm will continue to roll through Utah through Friday. With the new year will come a break in the snow.

Nowcast: Currently, there is still snow coming down in the mountains and is overcast at the valley floor.

Image courtesy of College of DuPage

Above is the radar image at 2:30 MST. We can see an area of high reflectivity corresponding with the Cottonwood Canyons (circled in pink). I don’t think that the snow will stop anytime soon up there. Alta is reporting 2″ on the day.

Short-Term: This storm will continue to move through northern Utah throughout the evening and into tomorrow morning. Weak snow showers should continue in the mountains throughout the afternoon. After the resorts close, there will be a cold front that should pass through northern Utah just after sundown. We can see this frontal passage, and associated increase in snowfall rates in the accumulated snow from the SREF:

Source: University of Utah

We can see that this storm is by no means over, with the brunt of the storm coming in overnight tonight and into tomorrow morning. It just keeps coming!

Long-term: The storm will exit the region with the year on Friday evening. It could stick around a bit longer in the Cottonwoods due to the associated NW flow.

As we enter 2022, there is a break in the snow as we transition out of this active pattern that we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks. The GFS is playing with a ridge building around the 10th, however the EURO doesn’t have this feature. At least the models aren’t in agreement that this active pattern will completely stop. I’ll take it.

As the sun comes out and there is more snow to play in, remember that we are experiencing some dangerous avalanche conditions. Be safe out there folks.

Snow Totals: Cottonwoods: 12-15″, PC: 11-13″, Northern Wasatch: 10-12″

~Pete Gombert

Cold day, snow on the way!

TL;DR: The Wasatch remains cold and will get windier moving into tonight, with more precipitation on the way tonight and tomorrow. The New Year will bring a lull in weather, but offer a great opportunity to spend some time in the sun. Don’t be fooled by the lull in the storm, avalanche danger is still considerable with the potential for fatal avalanches, so please be cautious if you’re headed into the backcountry and head to The Utah Avalanche Center’s website for a full forecast and breakdown of the current avalanche problems.

LWIR showing scattered high cloud tops over Utah today. Courtesy of weather.cod.edu

Nowcast: Utah remains in the low pressure system of the last week, but winds have died down a bit for this morning. Temps are in the single digits with west southwest to southwest winds in the teens to low twenties, picking up throughout the day. Gusting on ridges this morning could reach into the low 30s, increasing throughout the day to the mid 40s by tonight. It will remain overcast for the day. There is a chance for traces of snow throughout the day, but tonight is when we will start to see the snow accumulate, looking at 3”-4” overnight in LCC. 

Short-Term Forecast: This low pressure system will remain over Utah into the weekend, with the potential to bring more precipitation. Snow will fall tomorrow into Friday, with potential for more snow into the weekend. Temperatures will stay low and dip even further moving from Thursday to Friday. 

LCC snow accumulation forecast, showing the accumulation for Thursday moving into Friday and Saturday.
Courtesy of https://www.inscc.utah.edu/~steenburgh/ml/lccforecast.html

Mid-Long Range Forecast: Models are suggesting that the trough will start to decrease moving into the New Year. This will bring an increase in temps but a decrease in precipitation, but nothing like some sunny days to enjoy the new snow we’ve gotten in the past week! 

Snowfall/Precipitation Forecast: 

  • 3”- 4” inches overnight in LCC 
  • We could see anywhere from 10” – 20” from tomorrow to Saturday 

Keep it coming!

TL;DR: Snow will continue through the end of the year as a mean longwave trough parked over the western US ejects a few more systems into our region. A ridge will build in on the first day of the new year and bring a short stretch of dry conditions. Because we can’t get too greedy, can we?

Sun peeking through the snow at Alta this afternoon. Courtesy of Alta Ski Area: alta.com/weather

Nowcast: It was a cold and blustery one out there today! Following the passage of a high amplitude shortwave trough, temps from slightly above zero at upper elevations to low teens at resort bases were recorded today. Peak wind gusts of 20-25 mph along high ridgelines and 5-10 mph at resort bases were also observed. All resorts across the state received additional snow overnight. Brighton added an additional 7” to its snowpack since lifts stopped spinning yesterday, while Alta received 6” and Park City received 2”.

Regarding climatology, we are now comfortably above average for this time of year. Below is the snow/water equivalent at the Snowbird SNOTEL site. It shows that prior to our last storm, we were stagnant right around average. Thanks to our last storm, this site has racked up an additional 4.5″ of water.

SWE from Snowbird SNOTEL site. Courtesy of the NRCS: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/WCIS/AWS_PLOTS/siteCharts/POR/WTEQ/UT/Snowbird.html

Short term: Orographic showers that are currently lingering over the Wasatch will begin to wrap up overnight as post-frontal subsidence builds. West-southwest flow will set up throughout the day tomorrow as another shortwave trough travels down the California coast. Pressure gradients will strengthen over the day tomorrow and allow gusty winds to develop overnight, continuing through Thursday. Snow showers are expected to develop on Wednesday night and continue through Thursday as this flow favors the mountains.

Forecast loop of 500mb height anomaly over the next 36 hours from the GEFS. Courtesy of Tropical Tidbits: tropicaltidbits.com

Long term: The mean longwave trough will begin to dive into our region on Thursday. The synoptic forcing from this deepening trough combined with high amounts of moisture still lingering from the last storm will allow widespread showers to develop over the whole state on Thursday night. These snow showers are expected to continue through Friday as the trough continues to deepen. Terrain enhancement will lead to times of moderate-to-heavy snow in the mountains on Friday.

Snow totals: Trace to an inch of snow is expected overnight as orographic showers may linger. Expect 1-4 inches of snow overnight on Wednesday for the central Wasatch. The forecasted storm totals for the Wednesday-Friday storm will be updated tomorrow.

Free Refills on the Menu Today

TL;DR: After a somewhat mild night last night, a winter storm warning is in effect today, with increasing winds, a healthy helping of snow (10-18 inches today), and a cold front bringing in very chilly conditions.

Strong LWIR signal today showing an active storm system with high cloud tops moving in from the southwest. Courtesy of weather.cod.edu 

Nowcast: The storm quieted down a little bit last night only leaving a small addition to the snow totals of this current storm. However, we will see this system pick up a little more today as the axis of the trough along with a strong cold front will advect into our region today. Temperatures will be dropping where high temperatures on the ridges will be 5-10F and the bases of the resorts in the Central Wasatch will be in the 10-20 degree range (Cottonwoods will be on the colder end of the spectrum, while the Wasatch Back will see the higher temperatures). A winter storm warning is in effect today and snowfall will be moderate-heavy throughout the day. Expect blustery conditions on the mountains today, especially on the ridges, with gusts of up to 49 mph recorded on Mt. Baldy this morning. Winds will be calmer in the canyons and along the Wasatch Back, with wind speeds in the 5-10 mph, but gusts coming in at the 20 mph range. 

Lowlight lenses and extra warm layers recommended for today and tomorrow!!

Beautiful stormy conditions (and very poor visibility) at Alta today. Courtesy of Alta Ski Resort at www.alta.com/weather#mountain-cams 

Short-term: The passage of the upper level trough over the region today will lead into more zonal flow tonight and tomorrow before a shortwave trough will amplify through the area tomorrow night into Wednesday. The passage of the trough today will bring heavy snowfall that will slow down tonight and tomorrow. While we are between troughs, the strong winds of today will slow down tonight and tomorrow before picking back up tomorrow night with the incoming and amplifying shortwave trough. A cold front is moving into the area today through tomorrow, bringing in low temperatures (the GFS is showing a low of -20F at 700 mb tomorrow morning, where currently 700 mb temps are around -12F). Resorts will be around 5-7 degrees cooler tomorrow than they are today.

Good visualization of the cold front transporting cold air across the state. Model and image courtesy of atmos.washington.edu

Mid-range: As the shortwave trough amplifies Tuesday night, light snow will continue throughout the week. The cold front will move out of the area so the temperature highs on Wednesday will be 8-10 degrees warmer than Tuesday, and temperatures will be greater on Thursday. While the flow will become more zonal again throughout the week, a shortwave trough over the Northwest will start to amplify and pass over Utah starting Thursday night. This amplification will be accompanied by more snowfall, hopefully bringing another powder day at the end of the week. Note that the warming occurring throughout this week as snow keeps falling will cause the snow to increase in density, creating an upside down accumulation of snow. This is a recipe for increasing avalanche danger, so as always, head over to utahavalanchecenter.org for all your backcountry avalanche information. 

Snow totals: Last night added about another 1-2” to the snowfall totals of this storm in the Central Wasatch. Snow accumulation today could be as high as 10-15”. Light snowfall will continue throughout the week adding a couple inches throughout the week, while a big storm Thursday night will bring higher amounts of snow. 

Happy powder day, everyone!


No End in Sight!


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

I come bearing gifts

TL;DR A break today will give way to a healthy storm tonight, another break tomorrow, and more snow after that. Really great large scale pattern for the next week or so!

Right Now Valley temperatures are in the low 40’s, it’s near freezing at base areas, and it’s in the teens on the upper mountain. Winds have been pretty strong on the peaks for the past 24 hours or so, with sustained winds on Mt. Baldy of about 30mph and gusts in the 60s. We’re in a bit of a break right now between several waves, but radar is picking up a few snow showers in the Cottonwoods and to their SE.

Short Term Forecast The dominant pattern this morning, and for more or less the foreseeable future (see extended forecast), is an upper-level trough near the Pacific coast:

From https://www.pivotalweather.com/model.php?m=gfs&p=500wh_nb&rh=2021122506&fh=108&r=na&dpdt=&mc=

The long-wave trough isn’t going anywhere soon, and will eject several short-wave features that look to give us a lot of snow over the next few days. We’re on the tail edge of the last one which brought 1-4″ over the last 24 hours, and the next should start tonight around midnight:

Plumes from https://weather.utah.edu/index.php?runcode=2021122509&t=sref&d=PL&r=CLN
for the next few days. Note the current time is 25/18Z, so some has already happened.

By the time this wave tapers off around mid-morning tomorrow, we could see 8-15″ from it. And we don’t have too long to wait before the next one starts producing tomorrow around midnight. This will be potentially a longer lasting wave and might bring an additional 1-2′ by Tuesday.

Long Range Forecast As mentioned above, the large-scale trough is not moving very fast at all and keeps ejecting short-wave troughs that will give us snow. Here it is again on Wednesday morning:

From https://www.pivotalweather.com/model.php?m=gfs&p=500wh_nb&rh=2021122506&fh=108&r=na&dpdt=&mc=?

Not much different than this morning, above. This is a really great pattern for us and it doesn’t look to break down for the foreseeable future!

Snow Forecast 8-15″ by tomorrow morning, a break tomorrow during the day, and an additional 1-2′ by late Monday night for a total of 20-40″!

-Thomas DeWitt

Ho, Ho, Snow

TL;DR The storm brought snow overnight to the cottonwoods, with more on the way during the day today. This low pressure system will persist for the next few days, offering the chance for more snow. The avalanche danger is extreme at upper and mid elevations so be careful if you’re heading into the backcountry and head to the Utah Avalanche Center for a full forecast. 

Alta’s Albion Basin webcam this morning.

Nowcast Temps are in the low teens in the cottonwoods. The West to Southwest wind is in the mid 20s with gusts into the 40s, potentially increasing as the day goes on. Snow will continue to fall throughout the day and into the night. The day will be overcast, but the storm has moved much of the pollution out of the valley offering good air for the holidays. 

The first model shows the snow ratio, which will stay high and even increase over the next few days. The second model shows the snow accumulation, which will continue to rise as the weekend progresses thanks to the low pressure system that is over Utah.

Short-Term Forecast This trough that is over Utah shows no signs of leaving. Models are suggesting that a brief pause in precip overnight will pick up again tomorrow with more snow accumulation as the storm continues. Winds will continue to be in the 20s to 30s.

Mid-Long-Range Forecast As the weekend continues into next week, more snow will continue to fall, ideally bringing storm totals into the range of two feet or more. Temperatures look to be dropping into the low teens and single digits as we move into next week and winds will continue in the 20s to 30s. This low pressure system that is bringing snowfall now shows no signs of moving on, offering continued chances of precipitation over the next week. 

Snowfall/Precipitation Forecasts (Friday – Saturday)

Baldy 10”-15” into Saturday night