Digging out (Wednesday update)

Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 9:17 am

Wednesday update:

A look at the models today brings some clarity to what we can expect between now and Thanksgiving. For the last several days, both the Euro and the GFS have showed a couple weak waves moving into Utah this weekend with a potentially stronger, deeper, colder trough for next week. Both models in the last 24 hours have almost completely backed off on the strong trough idea before Thanksgiving. However, we will see the two weak waves this weekend. One starting late Friday into Saturday that will bring a chance for rain in the valleys and a couple inches of wet snow at best for the mountains. The second might have better moisture to work with (though still lacking in dynamics), this one looks to move in late on Sunday into Monday. That could bring a few more inches of snow to the mountains and another chance for rain in the valleys. Nothing major.

We will then ridge up according the latest model runs. Over the last few days, we’ve seen the models showing high pressure to our East with deep low pressure to our West and it was always a question as to who would win out. It’s looking like the high pressure will win this battle and the low pressure system will mostly affect the Cascades and the far Northern Rockies. So Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday will likely be dry barring a major backtrack of the models.

The next chance for a significant snowstorm is in the days right after Thanksgiving (November 23-25)…. That will affect a lot of travel plans if it verifies so we’ll keep an eye on it. …WSF

P.S. I got a few questions last week as to why I didn’t refer to the storm as “Brutus” as I’m sure many of you saw it was named. I could rant about this for a while but I won’t, I will just say that the naming of winter storms is a terrible idea that will just cause confusion and is solely a money-making venture for the Weather Channel. You won’t hear any serious meteorologist using those names. If you want to read more, there’s a great article here: Naming Winter Storms: Good for Weather Channel, Bad for Public

Tuesday update:

Brighton is open! Utah’s first lift-serviced skiing of the season is going on right now. Tomorrow Solitude, Thursday Snowbird, Friday Alta and more!

Now the question is when can we supplement those amazing early season bases with even more snow? Our next chance for light snow in the mountains is Friday, but that won’t be more than a couple inches at best. Our attention is now focused on middle of next week as another large, deep, and cold Pacific trough is progged to move off the Pacific. Looks like the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada will get hammered but questions still remain as to how well the trough will hold together as it crosses the Great Basin. Our best guess on timing for this would be the day before Thanksgiving. It would be nice to have some fresh snow for the holiday. We’ll keep you updated.

Super long term models, which are not reliable for exact timing/strength of storms, but can be useful for at least forecasting general trends, are showing active Pacific storm progression through the end of the month. So our chances at continued snowfall are looking good. The winter ski season is upon us and looking bright!

Happy Shredding!


Monday update:

Quick look at the models today and there’s not much new to talk about that we didn’t cover in yesterday’s discussion. Dirty ridge in place will allow for a gradual warm-up however clouds will be on the increase tonight into tomorrow as a weak wave passes to our north. Next chance for snow is Friday but it is a very weak system and much more mild than the one we just saw. Best we’ll see is a few inches in the mountains with a rain shower or two in the valley. Brighton opens tomorrow and a handful of other resorts are opening this weekend. So conditions couldn’t be better for getting the mountain ready for the year.

Next chance for big snow will be next week as a large and potentially significant trough digs off the Pacific Coast. Still lots of questions but it’s looking increasingly likely that it may stall off the coast for a few days and send a hose of moisture into Oregon and Northern California, could be a very productive storm for Tahoe. This large west coast trough is reflected well in the CFSv2 for Week 2 Nov 18-24 below:

The question for us is how progressive this trough will be and if it will move into the Great Basin and give us a decent storm as well. The models don’t kick it inland until close to Thanksgiving day, which is too far out for any real confidence so the best we can say for now is to keep checking back and within the next few days we should have a much better idea.

Update tomorrow…WSF

8:30 PM Sunday….. I found that due to the longevity of this snow event, most of the snow reports that were sent in to us at WSF were out of date by the time I got around to posting them. So instead, I’ll just share some pics right here, right now with you!

Deck at Snowbird on Saturday afternoon (Jesse M)

Shredding LCC, Saturday 11/10 (Patrik S)

Snow in SLC, Saturday(Cody C.)

Snowpark, Park City, Saturday (Danny C.)

Digging out at Alta (Alex L)

30″ of snow, Sunday, Cottonwood Heights (WSF)


It’s been an eventful week for Utah winter weather lovers as we’ve seen our first major storm of the winter. Cold air is now squarely over Utah–current temp at the Snowbird weather station is reading 6 degrees. Snow is still falling as of 9 AM over southern Davis County and Northeastern Salt Lake County (including the Cottonwoods) due to a weakening lake effect snow band. Expect this to completely dissipate by around mid-day.

Snow reports have varied greatly due to the wildcard of Lake Effect snow. If you take away all the resulting accumulations from lake effect snow, we saw only a small to medium storm–with 10-15″ in the mountains and 2-6″ in the lower valleys. But when you add in the Lake Effect snow, you get much more impressive totals east and southeast of the GSL. 2 feet+ at PC resorts. 35-45″ for the Cottonwoods. Over two feet in places of the northern Salt Lake valley. Etc Etc. If you remember back to our discussions from last week, we said 1-2 feet in the mountains with more possible in favorable locations, well the Cottonwoods we the most favored location and we sure did luck out with final accumulations approaching 4 feet in spots.

Now the resorts have no excuse for not opening on time, they can dig out and continue to blow snow today and tomorrow if they wish with cold air in place. We will gradually warm up this week with a dirty ridge in place. Next chance for snow looks to be on Friday, but at best we can just expect a few inches. A system looks like it will split before moving into the West coast, sending one piece of weak energy to our north while the other drops down the California coast and eventually spins inland into Southern Utah. Don’t expect much more than a few showers from this feature and snow levels will likely be above the valley floors.

Next weekend, we could potentially be bracing for another larger trough to move into the West for the beginning of next week. Of course, there is a ton of uncertainty this far out so no guarantees. The one thing that does look certain is that the Pacific is very active compared to this time last year and the chances of us having an extended period of dry weather like we saw last year is slim.

Enjoy the beautiful snow-covered landscape we find ourselves in and start doing those lunges to get your ski muscles ready because almost everything in Northern Utah is opening in the next two weeks. We’ll keep you updated on when to plan for your next powder day.


P.S. If you are looking to stock up on ski / snowboard supplies for this season, please consider using one of the partner links in the right sidebar if you are going to purchase online. By accessing Backcountry/Dogfunk/evo via one of these links, a portion of the proceeds will go toward supporting WSF. It would be much appreciated! Thank you.

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  • Steve

    Is it the high pressure over Utah and western US that is keeping the storm activity away from Utah? Any thought of what it would take for the high to move away?

    • We’ve got a dirty ridge of high pressure right now as opposed to a dominate, high amplitude ridge. A dirty ridge will keep us mostly dry but we get brushed by systems as they pass just to our north and we end up with a lot of cloudiness like we saw today, hence the name ‘dirty’. Right now that is keeping most of the storm activity out of the area. Next week we should see a more dominate high to our east and a trough to our west. Looks like we’ll be a little more under the high than in the trough. Two ways to get rid of high pressue… we can either break it down or we can shift it west or east which is called retrogression/progression of the jet stream.

      Active Pacific right now suggests that even if we see a period of high pressure, it shouldn’t last for too long.