Nailed It

Now that the sun is peeking out over northern Utah, let’s take a look at the totals from this storm. On Sunday we went 4-8″ for the northern Wasatch resorts: Snowbasin reports 8″ and PowMow reports 5″. On Sunday we went 3-6″ for the PC resorts, and upped it to 4-8″ on Monday am: PC reports 4″ and the Thaynes Canyon Snotel within the resort boundaries recorded a 7″ increase in snow depth. On Sunday we went 6-12″ for the upper Cottonwoods, and upped it to 7-14″ on Monday am: 12″ fell at the Alta-Collins site with 15″ reported at Snowbird. Not bad! Enjoy this one, because I’m sure we’ll miss a few this season 🙂

Snow is falling

As of Tuesday morning there is 9″ reported at Snowbird with 5″ at Park City and 5″ at PowMow.  The snow that is falling is the blower variety, so while it isn’t great for building up the base, it is much better than nothing.  Snow and snow showers will continue through this afternoon in areas south of roughly PowMow.  The Upper Cottonwoods could even see light showers hang on through the night due to the relatively moist northwest flow at mid-levels.  Lake effect precipitation is another possibility, although a very uncertain one. If it happened tonight it would also favor the Cottonwoods.  Don’t even ask me what contribution that might might make. Additional accumulations of 3-6 inches are likely over most mountain areas today.  The Upper Cottonwoods, however, may see another 6-12″ through tomorrow morning.  Snow levels will stay at or near the valley bottoms.  By the time this storm is over there may be some legitimate skiing to be had at currently closed Alta. Based on our forecasts from Sunday, most areas will probably come in near the upper end (or even over the top) of the snowfall ranges.

Thursday through Sunday will be dry and warm.  The GFS and Euro model are on board with another trough with a cold front coming in Monday.  The details are still sketchy, but right now it looks like it will be another decent shot of snow. Winter is coming!



More of the Good Stuff

As promised last week, we are still on track for a storm starting tomorrow afternoon! A strong upper-level trough will drop into the Great Basin and bring us periods of mountain snow through Tuesday night. Flurries will resume late Wednesday as a system brushes by to our north. I don’t anticipate this being a big event, but I’m thinking accumulations will be similar to our most recent storm. It will also once again be cold enough for any precipitation that falls in the valley on Tuesday or Wednesday to fall as snow. With the cold temperatures aloft, the powder will be low-density, which is not ideal for base-building, but I’m just happy we’re getting more snow.

Details: Showers, mainly over the mountains, will begin to increase tomorrow (Monday) afternoon as the upper-level system approaches Utah. A surface cold front will sweep through in the evening, bringing a burst of moderate-heavy precipitation (mountain snow/valley rain) with it. Winds will swing around to northwesterly behind the front, temperatures will steadily fall, and orographic snow showers will continue over the mountains through Tuesday night. With little intermission, a shortwave trough will brush by to the north, turning on the flurries again late Wednesday through Thursday night. Lake-effect snow is possible Wednesday morning and Thursday morning…if an orgranized band gets together and lingers over a part of the Wasatch, expect totals in those areas to be a bit higher.

Accumulation: I’ll go with 4-8″ for the northern Wasatch (PowMow, Beaver, Snowbasin), 3-6″ for the Park City area resorts, and 6-12″ for the upper Cottonwoods.

Edit @ 1pm 11/9: I’m gonna up the forecast to 4-8″ for the PC resorts and 7-14″ for the upper Cottonwoods

Long Range: Things quiet down on Friday, and there is little in the way of precipitation expected through early next week. Bummer. Let’s hope the model solutions change a little for the day 6+ time frame and give us something.


A truly Great salt lake

The storm came to a nice finale overnight and this morning with a good period of lake-effect snow from the Great Salt Lake. Everyone got a little bit as the band swung around: Farmington areas mountains, the central Wasatch, even the Oquirhhs. Storm totals (Tues-Wed pm) were about 6″ in the upper Cottonwoods, and as of this morning, with the addition of the lake-effect snow, we sit at about 9″ (Tues-Thurs am). So all in all, my 6-12″ for the upper Cottonwoods verified…although just barely if you don’t count the lake-effect snow that saved my butt. 

If you look at the northern Wasatch though, my forecast wasn’t quite so good…it’s tough to tell what fell this time of year (ski areas aren’t reporting yet, and SNOTEL sites are still counting grass with their sensors) but I’m thinking somewhere around 2-5 in most places. The good news, though, is that the northern Wasatch looks get another round of snow tonight-tomorrow, along with the Cottonwoods.

Short term: there is another quick-hitting shortwave that will drop into northern Utah tonight, bringing more snow showers and the possibility of another round of lake-effect snow off the GSL. I’m gonna go with another 2-5″ in the northern Wasatch (Beaver Mountain, Snowbasin, PowMow), and 1-4″ in the upper Cotonwoods (Solitude, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird). If the lake-effect band forms and points at the Cottonwoods for an extrended period though, totals could be higher.

Long Range: still looking like a gorgeous weekend, with snow returning to our mountains (where it belongs) Monday-Tuesday

Dalily forecasts with our whole crew will start next week! So you’ll have a chance to see how much better (or worse) than me the other forecasters are. 

Storm Update

We had a decent period of precipitation yesterday (Tuesday) morning, and some stronger showers in the area this morning, but overall this storm has been pretty unimpressive. The crest-level winds have remained stubbornly out of the southwest, and have become light this morning, neither of which is good for orographic snowfall in most of the Wasatch. Small scale snowbands within the larger storm also set up over the eastern Salt Lake Valley and the Oquirhhs overnight and this morning…in fact last night it looks like the Oquirhhs actually got more snow than the Wasatch. Oh well, we’ve still got some time left with the upper-level system over us, and winds should turn more northwesterly overnight, so this should help us get more out of the system before it departs on Thursday. Lake-effect also remains fairly likely for Wednesday night/Thursday morning, so hopefully our patience will be rewarded.

On Friday it looks like a fast-moving shortwave trough to our north may pass close enough to bring us some snow as well, but it likely won’t be more than a dusting.

Long Term: an upper-level ridge of high pressure will build over us on Saturday, so the weather should be great to be outside this weekend. The next storm is still looking like it will drop in early next week.

Knocking on the Door

The forecasted storm for this week is still on track, but it looks like the timing will be a bit later, and the precipitation amounts in the models have decreased since I last updated on Friday. That said, there are a lot of precipitation features within this system that could develop in the right place to bring us much more precipitation than the models are depicting, so we could get a nice surprise, but I would not bet on it.

Summary: a strong, cold upper-level trough will move into the area tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, and linger over us for a few days, with periods of mountain snow through Thursday. We will warm up and dry out over the weekend, with our next shot at a storm about a week from now.

Snow Levels: beginning at around 8500ft on Tuesday morning, and lowering rapidly through the day. Temps will likely be cold enough on Wednesday and Thursday for snow all the way to the valley floors.

Snowfall: generally 4-8″ for most of the Wasatch, with 6-12″ in the upper Cottonwoods.

Lake-Effect Wildcard: with a cold upper-level trough this time of year, and a VERY warm Great Salt Lake, there is a good chance of lake-effect snow. If a lake-effect band can organize and sustain itself over an area for some time, totals could be higher. Let’s hope for some magic from our Salty neighbor to the Northwest.


P.S. the winds will be howling this afternoon. Prepare yo’self

First good storm of the season on the way

After the little appetizer of a storm we got yesterday (3″ at the Alta-Collins site), it appears the atmosphere is going to deliver the main course for us on Monday. There will be a chance of snow late Sunday, but late Monday looks to be the onset of the good stuff, with the heaviest snow lasting through Tuesday. Then the models keep us in an unsettled pattern for the remainder of the week. I’m pretty excited about this…it’s time to get the snowpack started for the year!

This storm is also likely going to be much colder than the last one, with snow levels potentially reaching the valleys on Tuesday. Woohoo! Overall, it looks like we will be entering into a wetter, colder, more winter-like pattern nect week…we’ll keep you updated as the details come into focus.


Storm Update

Sorry I haven’t had time since Tuesday to post an update on today’s storm, but unfortunately it looks like things will be much drier than I forecasted on Tuesday. The models have continued to portray a weaker and weaker storm, and really it looks more like a 2-4″ event for most of the Wasatch. Some places may even get only a dusting…

The Good News: next week still looks good for a much better storm! I’ll keep you updated when I get a chance to look at things again later this week.

Daily Forecasts will start soon! As soon as the ski season get underway with skiable snow, we will start daily forecasts from our full forecast team. Keep your fingers crossed for next week!

Storm on the Way

There is pretty good agreement amongst the models that the first real snow of the season will arrive in the Wasatch on Thursday. Can I get a hallelujah?!?! Before you get too excited though, I should mention that I don’t see this storm bringing us *quite* enough snow to get real skiing in the backcountry. I know that a lot of you are more than happy to shred 6″ of snow on the grassy slopes though, so this may do it for you!

Timing: Snow should begin in the Northern Utah mountains on Thursday morning, and end by early Friday morning. So this should be a quick hitter.

Snowfall: The main energy will be to our south and the flow direction is not ideal for a big dump in the Cottonwoods, or many of the Wasatch resorts, but the storm has decent ascent to work with, so I’ll go with 4-8″ in favored areas like Powder Mountain and the Cottonwoods, and 3-6″ for other areas.

Snow Level: 6,500-7,500ft

Next Storm: Early next week. It could be a decent storm, but it looks like most of the energy may dive south of us. Keep your fingers crossed, and we’ll keep you updated.

Finally Fall

After a long stretch of having to use my A/C at night the past few weeks (overnight lows were typically what we would see in July!), it FINALLY feels like fall in the Wasatch this morning. An upper-level trough dropped into Utah last night, and brought some much needed rain and even snow above about 10,500ft in the Wasatch.

So after a glorious summer of river trips, trail running, mountain biking, and climbing, it’s about time for us here at Utah Ski Weather to start shaking the cobwebs off our snow forecasting skills and prepare for the ski season! We…well at least most of us…have made good progress over the summer on our thesis and dissertation research here at the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the U, so we are once again recharged and ready for another season of bringing you all high quality snow forecasts for the Wasatch!

That being said, you may be wondering, “will we finally have a normal or above-normal winter?” It’s been 4 very long years since this happened.

Well as you may have heard, it’s a virtual certainty that El Niño conditions will be present this winter, and confidence is increasing that it will be a strong El Niño. So what does this mean for Northern Utah? Unfortunately not very much. Strong El Niño years typically mean a high chance of a wet winter in the Southwestern U.S. and a high chance of a dry winter in the Pacific Northwest, but Northern Utah is of course in neither of those regions. Southern Utah (I’m looking at you, Brian Head) looks like they have a decent shot at a good winter though. If you take a look at the NWS Climate Prediction Center’s 3-month precipitation forecast, you’ll see that they made their forecast based primarily on the forcing from El Niño (there are many other oscillations that affect global weather patterns), and that the Wasatch is indeed in the region between high chances of above normal and high chances of below normal. Fight the temptation to conclude that that means we’ll have an average winter…it just means that there is no predictability this winter for Utah. It’s a total crap-shoot. I know I know, many of you are probably thinking “a meteorologist just told me that there’s a 50-50 chance we’ll have a good winter, that’s really helpful.” Well while 7-day weather prediction has become quite skilled in the modern times of super computers and satellites, the truth is that season-scale climate prediction is still in its infancy. So you can always take a look at the absolute garbage that is spewed from non-scientific sources like the Farmer’s Almanac, but I prefer to do a snow dance, pay attention to the forecast each weak, and make my ski plans accordingly!

We’ll be keeping an eye on the weather from here on out, and as soon as it looks likely that our first big, skiable Fall storm is on the horizon, we will be sure to let you know. We look forward to a great season and thank you for checking out USW!