Last wave (Wed PM)

Monday, October 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Thursday 8 AM update:

Snow currently falling in the SLC valley with an inch on the grass at 4700’… Snowbird snow cam looks like they’ve received 5 or so inches overnight and it will snow off and on all day so reasonable that we could double those amounts. Mother Nature is trying to make up for her snub of the Cottonwoods and PC earlier this week. Lake effect or enhanced snow will continue throughout the day, starting to the east southeast of the lake, moving southeast, and finally finishing south of the lake late tonight. This could enhance valley accumulations and even give a boost to Cottonwood resorts.

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Full storm analysis and outlook tomorrow.


Wednesday 5:30 PM update:

Third and final wave of precip will move into Northern Utah tonight and carry us into tomorrow morning. This wave will bring with it colder air and greater instability. This instability will be conducive to generating orographic lift. So at least tonight we don’t totally have to rely on where the precip band sets up. NWS still calling for 6-12″ but we’re aren’t quite so optimistic and think 4-8″ is more likely. Lake effect snow to the southeast of the GSL could develop late tonight and tomorrow morning and could cause locally greater accumulations. If you recall, before the start of the storm, we called for 10-20″ for the high elevations. If we get the 4-8″ above 8,000 ft tonight that we are expecting, it will bring total accumulations of 6-12″ for the Central Wasatch and 25-35″ for portions of the Northern Wasatch. So we will have fallen short of predicted accumulations for the SLC area, but over-achieved on accumulations for PowMow and Snowbasin. Unusual for us to have a storm system with that much discrepancy but that is how these types of weather patterns can evolve when a front stalls as we saw both Monday night and last night.

After tomorrow, we will start to clear out as we head toward the weekend. Temps will warm up and we’ll have some more lovely fall weather right into early next week. Next chance of snow is second half of next week but details are vague at this point. We’ll take a closer look on Friday.

Update in the AM


Wednesday 7:30 AM update:

I bit of disappointment this morning as the main precip band was neither as heavy or as far south as the NAM was suggesting it would be. Most SLC adjacent resorts only reporting 1-3 inches this morning. With that being said, the snow band is still there and slowly sagging south, so expect snow to pick up for the Cottonwoods and PC this morning before dissipating by mid day. off and on orographic showers are possible this afternoon but will provide little accumulation. Next round of snow for tonight/tomorrow is still looking good in the models but after the disappointment of last night, we’re trying not go get our hopes up. Can’t say it’s really a surprise that it didn’t work out, if you remember last week we mentioned that these fronts that are dropping south into Utah were projected to “stall” over the area, and we said that if the front stalls just north or just south of us, it will drastically reduce the amount of snow we saw. Well, that is exactly what happened. Moving on… hopefully this morning we can catch up a bit.

The bright side is that Powder Mountain and Snowbasin have already reached and even exceeded our original forecast of 10-20″, but everything south of there is still well short. So it all depends on how you look at it. Keep your thoughts on snow…


Tuesday PM update:

At 8 PM MST, rain is developing in the valleys with snow falling above 6,000 ft. in the mountains. Here is the 7:45 PM radar returns for Northern Utah:

This band will not move much tonight and should strengthen and expand over the next several hours. It is possible to see very heavy rain and snow at times within this band. We feel it’s going to set up very well for Cottonwood Canyon resorts and PC resorts. Powder Mountain and Snowbasin, which received 10-20″ today will be on the northern fringes of the band but should still see significant additional accumulations. Tomorrow the mountains will be totally white and snow levels will fall to near valley floors so the benches could see some accumulating snow as well with trace amounts below that. Still expecting 6-12 inches tonight for elevations above 8,000 feet. 4-8 inches for Park City is possible with 1-3 inches on the benches if the snow level falls low enough.

Thursday we’ll have the last main impulse of energy. This will be the coldest so far with snow levels down to valley floors. Not quite sure how much to expect from this one, but another 4-8″ in the high elevations is definitely possible.

This is what we’ve all been waiting for so desperately — Winter Weather! So enjoy it! Update in the AM.

Tuesday AM update:

Northern Wasatch mountains, as expected, were the big winners last night. Still looking for a measurement, but here’s a web cam image from Powder Mountain. We are hearing first-hand reports of “over a foot”. Snotel reporting 15 inches at Monte Cristo summit.

Down in the SLC region, we saw precipitation overnight mainly with the front passage but it was short-lived. Big and Little Cottonwood resorts looked to have picked up only about an inch.

Rain and snow continue to come down North of Salt Lake City as of 8:30 AM on Tuesday. That band of precip should dissipate as it moves south so don’t expect much more than scattered showers today. Tonight the next front arrives to further lower snow levels and this time, it should give the Central Wasatch a better chance for accumulating snow. We expect 6-12 inches above 8,000 ft tonight and tomorrow. So today will be a bit of a break with off and on snow in the mountains. Tonight the real stuff arrives.

Stay tuned…


Monday PM Discussion:

So the current storm for us marks the start to the new season as it’s the first system that will put down enough snow and usher in cold enough temperatures that it will likely be the beginning of a permanent snowpack for the Wasatch mountain range and it’s associated ski resorts. Leading up to this system, WSF has seen exponential growth in viewership and followers on our Facebook page. So I would like to extend a “Welcome” to our new readers and write a brief explanation of what we are all about at Wasatch Snow Forecast. If you’re already familiar with what we do at WSF, you can skip the next two paragraphs and go straight to the forecast.

I started this site just over a year ago in preparation for the 11/12 season. The reason for starting this site was simple: I have always been interested in Meteorology, and after formally studying it briefly in college I decided that as a career, it was not for me. I wanted to focus on the exciting snowstorms, and truth be told, most weather forecasting is rather dull. So I took my life in another direction but always did my own forecasting as a hobby for friends and family. Skiing 50+ days a year, it was amazing how often I overheard misinformed skiers claiming that they had heard “an epic storm was coming in tomorrow” according to some anonymous News channel weatherman, when I knew perfectly well that tomorrow would be sunny and warm. I decided that the Wasatch was in definite need of a site run by somebody with knowledge and experience forecasting snow storms in the Western U.S. who could give them at least a somewhat accurate heads-up of when storms were rolling in and spare them the overhyping of storms that is so prevalent these days in TV weather forecasts and reports from the ski areas themselves. So last September I set about writing this weather blog, and it took a little time but eventually it took off. I only wish I had more snow to forecast in our inaugural season. With the help of some old friends who did become licensed meteorologists (who occasionally contribute to the site), WSF gained access to some great weather forecasting tools. And we have been striving to not just tell you when, where, and how much–but also to give you insight on how particular weather patterns and snowstorms take shape. And when we get a dud of storm, which no matter how hard we try, does happen, we can at least tell you what went wrong. We specifically try to look ahead of the small window in which the National Weather Service forecasts. They do a great job at NWS, but they are designed more to deal with the concrete facts of day-to-day weather and therefore keep their detailed forecasts focused on the short term and for the population centers. WSF, however, focuses specifically on how the mountains will be affected and you can plan your snow sport adventures accordingly. With that being said, we encourage you to utilize the Utah Avalanche Center for safety information regarding snowpack. While I am trained to recognize dangerous avalanche conditions, they are the true experts so I urge you to consult them as well before venturing into the backcountry.

We are seeing our daily recurring visits increasing as we approach winter with unique page visits once again numbering in the thousands per day. We have also been flattered by compliments over the last year for the service WSF provides, and they do not go unnoticed. It takes an incredible amount of my free time to look at all weather models 2-4 times per day and read notoriously long-winded expert discussions all in the name of giving the reader a quality forecast, so it is nice to know that the work isn’t all for naught. We are also in the process of creating a “Reader Snow Reports” page for the site that will allow us to post real time data as the snow flies. So please send us snow reports to when you have snow to report. Please provide your name, a general description of where you are (i.e. town, neighborhood, elevation) and of course a measurement of accumulated snow and we’ll throw your report on the page at the end of the storm. If it is an estimate, please note that in your email.

Now for the latest forecast . . .

Tonight the frontal band will slowly sag south into Northern Utah and combine with a moisture fetch currently crossing Northern Nevada to create widespread rain and snow lasting through tomorrow morning. This initial round of precipitation will favor the Northern Wasatch so resorts like Snowbasin and Powder Mountain could get 4-10 inches of snow by midday tomorrow. South of I-80, only a few inches will be likely above 8,000 ft. Snow levels will still be running relatively high starting at 8K feet tonight and slowly lowering to 6,000 ft. by tomorrow morning. Winds will continue to be strong throughout the area but will settle down about after the onset of precip.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) looks to be a bit of a break, although off and on valley rain showers and mountain snow showers look likely. The second wave will move in Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, this time, setting up farther south and giving all Wasatch ski resorts a chance at decent accumulations. This will also be a colder wave and snow levels should drop to all valley floors Tuesday night. Expect this wave to clear out on Wednesday morning leaving behind accumulations of 6-12 inches above 8,000 ft., 3-6″ for mountain valleys (including Park City), and 1-3″ in the lower valleys of the Wasatch Front. Lake effect snow will also be possible in this cold airmass with downwind areas such as the Oquirrh Mountains and the west side of the SLC valley possibly seeing additional accumulations from this lake effect band.

One final wave will move through the region on Thursday, offering a chance for more accumulations at all elevations. Lake effect snow will once again be possible on Thursday.

By Friday, we’ll start to dry out and warm up a bit. With increase in confidence, went ahead and bumped up expected accumulations by about 30-50%. Storm total accumulations look to be 10-20″ above 8,000 ft., with up to two feet in favorable locations. Mountain valleys will see 6-12″ total, and SLC will stay in the 2-4 inches total range but that may melt in between waves. It should also be noted that areas that do receive lake effect snow may see considerably more snow.

Long term outlook is still difficult to judge. Models agree that at least a few days of break is likely this weekend into early next week, but diverge after that. CFSv2 suggests we may return to wet weather the second week of November before drying out again around mid-month. It’s all speculation at this point and we’ll just focus on the short term, at least until this storm is over.

Very exciting stuff! Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated. Don’t forget to send snow reports to



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