Powder-ish day!

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 6:14 am

Monday 7 am:

It’s Monday morning, time to ski. 3-6″ seems to have fallen in the Wasatch, but not all resorts are reporting yet. Might not seem all that great but 5″ is a full on powder day in a lot of locations. We are blessed to live in a place where we see 5 fresh inches and say, “meh, no biggie”. Another weak system will move through mainly later on Wednesday. Still difficult to get a grasp on this system but another 3-6″ could be possible. Pattern is looking to turn colder this weekend with a chance for more snow… Details this afternoon when we get back from the mountain!


Sunday, 8:30 PM:

Cold front currently moving through Salt Lake Valley and approaching the Cottonwoods/Park City at 8:30 pm. Expect a couple hours of relatively heavy valley rain and mountain snow along and just behind the front. Precip will taper from north to south by midnight. 3-6″ in the Wasatch above 8K feet looks about right with maybe a bit more in a few spots.

Sunday, 4:45 PM:

Snow showers have been developing in the Wasatch over the last couple hours. Temperature profiles would suggest snow levels are near 8,500 feet. Based on what I’m seeing, I would expect the heaviest snowfall between 6 – 10 pm tonight with snow levels lowering to 6,000 ft before snow starts to taper after 10 pm. Think that resort bases below 8,000 ft will probably only get an inch or two of wet snow with mid- to upper-mountain locations seeing 4-8″, especially in areas like the Cottonwoods which are orographically favored. We’ll update again later tonight as precip reaches peak intensity . . .

Sunday AM update:

Models have continued to be consistent with tonight’s feature. Lots of wind ahead of the system. Precipitation should start late this afternoon in Northern Utah with very high snow levels near or above 8,000 ft. initially. These should start to fall as precip intensifies and the cold front approaches. Best guess right now is that we’ll have a 2-4 hour window of intense precip late this evening where we’ll see the majority of snow accumulations. Models suggest we could see 6-12″ in the Cottonwoods with 4-8″ for PC resorts. Not feeling all that confident with that based on how quickly these waves have been moving through the area over the last couple days. Our best guess would be 5-10″ in the Cottonwoods and resorts north of I-80 (Snowbasin/PowMow) with 3-6″ for PC.

Monday and Tuesday we’ll quiet down before another system affects the area on Wednesday and Thursday. This system has been looking a bit better the last couple runs but still nothing major. Any little bit helps though!

Snow tomorrow should be pretty decent as long as we see amounts close to what we’re expecting. It will consist of a few inches of wet snow on the bottom with lighter snow on top.


Saturday PM update:

Looking at 18z NAM and GFS gives me confidence for 3-6″ in the Wasatch above 7,500′ with 4-8″ possible in the Cottonwoods and closer to the Idaho border by Monday morning. Snow should begin tomorrow afternoon in Northern Utah with rain in the valleys. Lots of moisture again, better dynamics than last night’s system with an actual cold front providing forcing, but still fast moving which will likely limit accumulations. 18z models looking better for the midweek system but still not great. We’ll have a better look at that tomorrow.


We had the wave move through last night as expected. If you blinked, you might have missed it. We expected precip to start around 6 pm and continue until early Saturday morning, peaking just before midnight. What we saw was precip starting at 6, peaking at 7, and ending by 10:30. So instead of the 4-8″ we were hoping for, the mountains saw 2-5″. Closer to the original amounts forecasted the other day.

Now we wait until tomorrow (Sunday) for the next wave. This wave does look stronger but it will also be moving fast and may fall victim to the same fate, as such it might be a safer bet to say 3-6″ rather than 4-8″. Winds will be on the increase tonight and tomorrow ahead of the front. Monday could still feature some decent powder skiing if we get 6″ or more. In the mean time, the Sierra Nevada will continue to get hosed with snow levels there possibly rising to 10,000 ft tonight.

For us, beyond Monday we will clear out for a day or two before another system moves in Wednesday. Still unclear how strong this system will be for us as some models want to keep moisture to our north. My guess is it will be another small system with 3-6″.

The big question is the long term. Models agree on a high pressure ridge building in the Eastern Pacific. GFS at times has hinted at cold air and snowfall diving down the east side of the ridge into the area, the Euro, however, wants to keep all that cold air to our east, keeping Utah mostly dry. It will all depend on how far west this ridge sets up. The farther west the better, if it sets up too close to the coast, we might be in for another period of dry weather. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the coming days.


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  • Steve

    Boy, tough early season. See any hope of any cold air getting in in foreseeable future?

    • It will all depend on how far west the Eastern Pacific ridge sets up. If it’s far enough out there, we could get a good bit of cold air and some storms dropping in… but latest trends keep the ridge close to the west coast and therefore Utah mostly dry. We’ll see…

      • James

        Are you starting to worry about this season

        • Not really . . . if we still haven’t seen any good storms by the end of December I’ll definitely start to worry. But I don’t think that will happen.

  • ryan

    Ay yi yi…..utah is not starting off well again this year. powda to the people i say

    • Started out great, then things quieted down a bit. Hopefully they’ll pick up again.

  • MG

    Thanks for your blog, what a great resource. I am from the northeast (unfortunetly), but I try to make it to Utah about once a year and I am going for new years week, Are you able to make any analysis over a longer term one month period for the Cottonwoods and what period of time covers the Eastern Pacific ridge sets up you are mentioning? I am starting to freak out and weather channel is talking about a record warm December šŸ™ It’s astounding that there are people who argue against climate change.

    • Thank you for the kind words. The Cottonwoods have a decent base right now and they are only going to add to it this week, although not in the super heavy quantities that we hope for. The Eastern Pacific ridge is tricky, because if it sets up far enough west, it is a very good thing for us in Utah. But if it sets up too close to the coast, it can turn off the “tap” really quickly for us. Models disagree, as do long-range specialists, as to where this ridge will set up and how it will evolve. My guess is that even if it sets up close to the coast, it won’t last too long as there are some upstream systems that will break it down sooner rather than later. It’s truly impossible to say how much snow we’ll see before New Year, but I certainly wouldn’t panic yet. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated as things become clearer!

    • The debate is if climate changed is caused by man or not, not if it is happening. If you really want to open your eyes watch the BBC documentary called “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtevF4B4RtQ

      So far December is not looking great for snow but things can change fast so don’t worry just yet.