The Mayans were probably just planning a ski trip . . .

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 7:18 am

Tuesday AM update:

Last night, enough lift kept snow showers going in parts of the Wasatch past 9 PM which added to the totals a bit.  2-8″ fell in the Wasatch depending on your location — not bad for another weak system.

Today we will gradually clear out for a nice day to shred all the fresh snow.  Tomorrow will also likely be clear but winds will be on the increase ahead of the next system.  This system is a cutoff low that will drop down the west coast on Wed before ejecting inland over So. Cal, N. Arizona and S. Utah on Thursday and Friday.  This will bring high elevation snow to S. Utah where they desperately need it.  The Wasatch will just see a chance for mountain snow showers on Thurs and Friday.  A secondary wave will drop in from the northwest Friday night and give Northern Utah a chance for more widespread snowfall.  Still, amounts should be light with just a few inches in the mountains.

Saturday should be the break in the action before a larger, colder trough enters the area on Sunday.  This storm right now is timing for a late Sunday through Monday.  Still questions about its overall strength but it has potential to be decent.  We’ll continue to watch it.  Models agree on a break for Tuesday of next week with another system dropping in on Wednesday with another system possible for the weekend leading up to Christmas.  Definitely has the potential to be a great little pattern for us in Utah and throughout the Western U.S.



Monday PM update:

Just wanted to make a quick update as we mentioned the differences between the models earlier today and we wanted to keep you up-to-date.  12z GEM and ECMWF both continued the idea of the large system for later this weekend.  18z GFS is now seemingly trending toward the GEM and EC but isn’t quite as strong. Still a step in the right direction.  We believe that we have a decent shot at a more significant storm on approximately Sunday the 16th if these trends hold.  Snow levels will likely be at valley floors for this system as well.  I told you all to just hang on till mid-month… fortunately mother nature provided some frequent small storms to make the wait a bit easier.  Again, looks like systems could continue leading up to Christmas.

In the short term, snow is backing off throughout the Wasatch this evening and we should gradually clear out for tomorrow.  Thursday/Friday system still looks to bring good accumulations to the south but only light amounts to the north.  More tomorrow…


Good Monday morning to all!  And it is a good morning as we had a nice persistent system move in on Saturday morning and continue with off and on snow through the day yesterday.  We had predicted 3-6″ with up to 8″ in favored locations like the Cottonwoods.  What we saw was 3-6″ with up to a foot in the Cottonwoods and 8 inches at PC resorts which got under a nice baroclinic band on Saturday.

We’ve long been expecting a weak wave to move in today, which it is currently doing with snow falling off and on for the last few hours in the Wasatch range.  It is by no means strong, but this wave isn’t as weak as we first thought it would be.  Valleys today will see scattered snow with up to an inch or two possible.  Mountains will see 2-4″ with up to 6 inches possible in areas favored by the NW flow.  More snow to continue to freshen things up on the slopes!  The one drawback of this system is that it is windy as some of you may have already noticed even in the valleys.  Gusty winds are blowing snow by my window as I type this.  Ridge top winds could gust to 60 mph so be prepared for that if you’re venturing up onto the mountain.  The snow that does fall may combine with existing powder to create windpacked areas.  Find a protected gully where snow is being deposited and shred away!

This wave should clear out tonight and allow for quieter weather to move in for midweek.  A low pressure system will cutoff from the general flow and drop down the west coast over the next couple days before ejecting inland.  It will have a lot of energy and moisture to work with, but looks like it will track over northern Arizona.  A bummer for us in the Wasatch as we’ll likely see very little snow from this, but good news for the mountains of Southern Utah and Northern AZ that really need some snow.

Attention then turns to potentially stronger systems that may bring some great skiing and riding to the area leading up to Christmas (or the end of the world, depending on your perspective).  The eastern pacific ridge retrogrades westward, allowing for the storm door to open up for the west coast and areas inland (Utah).  The first of these systems is being handled differently by each model. The GFS is weaker with the system and keeps it mostly in the northwest with just a few showers for northern Utah this weekend, it does eventually drop the system into the Great Basin, but not until early next week.  The Euro and GEM are similar with the strength position of the system, but differ on general timing of the heaviest precip.  The GEM wants to bring heavy snow to the area starting  late Saturday, while the EC holds off until Sunday.  Both solutions are stronger and farther south with the system than the GFS.  General consensus in the meteorology world is that the EC and GEM are the better models with this particular feature based on better ensemble support and a better recent track record.  But the stubbornness of the GFS to come around over the past few days keeps confidence low.  We’ll keep an eye on it and see what direction the models trend.

The synopsis is that we’ll have some more snow today, a break Tuesday and Wednesday, a chance for light snow Thurs/Fri as the cutoff low tracks to our south, and then a chance for a better storm this weekend.

Long-range outlook still looking good with the progressive pattern continuing and systems dropping in for the next couple weeks.  We are either going to have a nice snowy end of the world on the 21st or a great holiday ski season.   I’m okay with either.

We’ll keep you posted this week on how the weekend storm is looking….


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  • Thanks for you dedication to the posts and your tireless efforts! When you have time (maybe an off-season project), could you create a “glossary”? Something with a a brief explanation of all the acronyms that are used in the posts. Euro, GEM, GFS, EC, etc – I get that some of these are models, and maybe that’s all I need to know ;-).

    • Joel,

      There is a link to a NOAA glossary on our “resources” page. That should help with some of the terms! WSF

  • George

    Hi! Any update on what kind of snow the mountains saw today? Alta’s website says 8″ today – not bad if true!

    • George, not sure myself as I wasn’t able to make it up there. I know they had a few inches last night with probably 4-5″ more throughout the day so 8″ in 24 hours sounds about right. Seems like it was fairly windblown so it’s hard to get an exact measurement.

      • George

        Thank you! Love the website. I live in NYC and check daily for updates before all my LC trips!