Storm Skiing Tomorrow

Posted Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 by Nathan Tarino

TL;DR: The Wasatch continues to enjoy an active pattern. Snow will begin late tonight and persist through much of Wednesday, making for good storm skiing. Thursday will likely feature some soft leftovers, and a smaller follow up storm will drop a few more inches on Friday.

Nowcast: The last ~10 days have treated us well, with the snowier of the Utah resorts reporting 40″+ since our pattern change:

Courtesy of the National Weather Service, with data provided by Ski Utah.

Today will be breezy and mild at the resorts, as southwest flow ahead of the approaching storm prevails.

Short Term: Another storm is on our doorstep! This event will unfold in three phases, which is shown nicely on the time heigh chart I’ve included below. The first phase (denoted in black) will begin tonight and last through tomorrow morning, as increasingly moist southwesterly flow impinges on the Wasatch. Snow that falls in this regime will be on the dense side, with snow to liquid ratios near 10:1. Phase two (grey) begins as lifts start spinning Wednesday with the passage of a strong cold front. A band of precipitation will accompany the frontal passage, and will bring the heaviest snowfall rates of the day for a couple hours. Cooler postfrontal air will yield higher snow to liquid ratios, so I expect snow from this storm to be nicely right side up. Behind the front lies phase three (white), in a relatively long period of unstable northwesterly flow – lasting through Thursday morning. Orographic showers can be expected to add a few inches of snow during this period, though moisture availability remains in question. There is some chance that lake enhancement could help out too. By midday Thursday snow will have subsided, and I expect 8-15″ in the Little Cottonwood resorts with 6-12″ elsewhere in the Central/Northern Wasatch. Both Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning should feature good skiing.

Courtesy of the University of Utah department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Beyond Thursday: A very short break from active weather Thursday night before a weaker storm arrives Friday morning. This system doesn’t look very impressive, but with cold air in place 4-8″ of low density snow could stack up quickly. More detail will emerge in the next few days. Looks like a bit of a lull in the action thereafter, but that’s alright. One shouldn’t complain when the 2 of the next 3 days bring pow.

-Nathan

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