WOW! What an Amazing Storm Cycle

Posted Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 by Tyler West

TLDR: Some additional snow overnight but amount and location will depend on finicky lake-effect showers…but generally < 5”.  Becoming sunny late Thu-Fri but cold on Thu.  Next notable chance of snow appears to be Mon-Tue.

Storm Details:  WOW! What a great storm cycle that began late Sat and is winding down but should officially end tomorrow around noon.  Since we should get a little more snow, I’ll hold off on doing comprehensive storm totals across all Utah ski areas, but here is a quick approximation (NOTE: snow water equivalent (SWE) is generally from SNOTEL sites while snow totals either come from ski resort reports or snow accumulation equipment…so take snow totals as best guesses).

From Sat evening through this morning or afternoon:

Park City Area:        ~5″  SWE  and ~45-50″ snowfall

Little Cottonwood:  ~6″ SWE  and ~55-60″ snowfall

Big Cottonwood:     ~5.5″ SWE and ~60-65″ snowfall

Ogden Area:              ~4″ SWE and     ~35-40″ snowfall

For those who hit the slopes today, the newest snow was right-side-up and skied wonderfully (if you could get to the resorts).  Some are posting pics on our twitter feed at https://twitter.com/utahskiweather.  So how much will fall tonight?

Tonight/Tomorrow

We are in post-cold front moist northwest flow, which favors the Cottonwood (especially Little Cottonwood) Canyons in what are generally orographic (or mountain enhanced) snow showers.  We also have an environment conducive to lake-effect snow showers and have seen some lake-enhanced precipitation already today (check out our twitter feed for some radar imagery, https://twitter.com/utahskiweather )  The problem is both these phenomena are notoriously difficult to predict since weather prediction models have a hard time resolving the fine-scale meteorological processes at play.  The “rules of thumb” and other pieces are currently in-place, but those are not a guarantee.  See below for a quick look at the times, locations, and research driven probability for lake effect.  I predict another 4-6” by tomorrow at noon for the Cottonwood Canyons, and 1-3” for the Park City, Provo, and Ogden area mountains…maybe 2-4” for Snowbasin.

University of Utah GSL Lake-Effect Guidance. http://weather.utah.edu/text/LAKE_EFFECT.txt
University of Utah GSL Lake-Effect Guidance. http://weather.utah.edu/text/LAKE_EFFECT.txt

Next, it will be cold tonight through tomorrow with 10,000 ft temperatures getting to -20?C (below 0?F).  Getting to -20?C is pretty rare and puts us in the very cold for Utah category.  The good thing about these cold temperatures is they increase the odds for lake effect, so not all bad.

Mid / Long Range

Temperatures will warm slowly Fri and Sat with sunny skies Fri and increasing clouds Sat.  A weak storm will move through late Sat-Sun but right now totals look in the 3-6” range.  After that a storm slated for Mon-Tue looks to be a better snow producer.  More details as we get closer.

-Tyler

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