Final wave . . .

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 6:21 am

Tuesday AM update:

Resorts in the Cottonwoods and PC reporting anywhere from 6-15″ of new snow overnight. Lesser amounts north of I-80. Light snow showers today will bring a few more inches. Full update and long range outlook this afternoon when I get back from skiing POW!

Monday evening update:

Front now moving quickly through northern Utah. Expect a quick burst of heavy snow through midnight tonight with snow off and on tomorrow. Best accumulations should stay confined to areas south of Salt Lake City down to Cedar City. Have decided to officially downgrade our predicted snowfall totals with this final wave from 1-2 feet to 6-12″ with 3-6″ in the far northern Wasatch. Lake effect may add to totals south and southeast of the GSL on Tuesday night. Disappointing but we will still end up with 1-3 feet from Friday through Wednesday — so it wasn’t a total loss. Reader reports have all indicated great skiing the last three days and the next two days shouldn’t be any different.

A storm late Sunday and Monday of next week is looking likely. Although strength is still in question.


Monday Noon update:

Latest run of the NAM wants to move the front through rapidly and bring the best snow to Central and Southern Utah. This would limit accumulations in the Northern mountains… may need to fine tune snowfall totals downward this afternoon when 18z runs come in.

Monday AM update:

Warm advection didn’t pan out quite as well for us as we were hoping over night. Only an average of 3-6″ being reported around the Wasatch with a foot of wind. So storm totals since Friday now stand at 12-30″ throughout the Wasatch. That’s okay, the meat and potatoes of this system moves in starting this afternoon and continues through the day on Tuesday. We expect another 1-2 feet from this last part of the system so we should still see 5-day snowfall totals of 2-4 feet.

Expect the snow to be on the increase throughout the day. Hopefully the wind will start to die down tonight so tomorrows deep powder isn’t wind-packed.

Looks like we’ll have another shot at snow right before Christmas!


Sunday PM update:

Light snow has been falling for most of the day in the mountains north of I-80 as well as the Cottonwoods. Accumulations since yesterday evening have ranged anywhere from 3″ to a foot. Storm totals since Friday now stand at up to 26″ in the Cottonwoods, with 12-18″ elsewhere. Not bad.

We should have a rather intense period of warm advection precip tonight into early Monday. Accumulations should be 6-12″ above 7,000 feet in the Wasatch. There might be a break late tomorrow morning and early afternoon before heavy snow returns Monday night and Tuesday morning. This will be associated with a potent front. Models have been speeding this feature up which means that the heavy snow will likely not last as long as we originally hoped, and we should clear out by Tuesday night. With that being said, another 10-20″ is likely in the high elevations of the Wasatch. There may be potential for lake effect snow after frontal passage Tuesday night but we don’t have much confidence quite yet in this occurring.

When you do that math, it looks like another 15-30″ of snow is likely in the favored locations of the Wasatch between now and Wednesday in addition to the amounts that have already fallen. Friday-Wednesday snowfall totals will likely range from 2-4+ feet. For valley snowfall, please consult the NWS Salt Lake City office as they will have a better idea what lower elevations can expect.

Wind will also be a factor tomorrow as the strong jet edges closer to Northern Utah. Tuesday should be less windy and will likely be the money day for deep powder if you’re looking for the best day to call in sick.

Enjoy! WSF

Sunday AM update:

Cold advection pattern currently occurring with cool northwest flow creating lift and generating orographic snow showers in the Wasatch north of I-80 and in orographically favored locations such as the Cottonwoods. Several inches of snow fell overnight and we should see several more throughout the day. So our prediction of 6-12″ from this initial wave in these areas still looks good. Park City isn’t as favored and will therefore see lesser accumulations from these first two waves.

Tonight the flow switches to a southwest, warm advection flow that will cause low snow ratios and higher densities. This will likely create some avalanche concerns. LCC (and possibly BCC) will likely need some avalanche control during the day on Monday. This warm advection pattern for tonight and Monday will bring more moisture than today’s wave, but with the higher snow densities. Accumulations will still be in the 6-12″ range for the mountains north of the interstate and the Cottonwoods with 3-6″ elsewhere in the Wasatch south of I-80.

Monday night into Tuesday we will see the most potent wave and associated cold front. Nothing has changed with the forecast of this wave. Still looking at 1-2 feet possible. A lake effect band is still in the cards southeast of the GSL Tuesday night and could enhance totals in the Salt Lake Valley and the Cottonwoods extending perhaps to the resorts of PC. This, as always, is difficult to forecast but the temperature profiles would suggest it may happen.

So to summarize, we are still looking at accumulations of 1-3 feet in the Wasatch with up to 4 feet in favored locations north of I-80 and areas such as the Cottonwoods. This is in addition to the 5-15″ that fell yesterday.

Update in the afternoon!


Saturday, 4 PM:

Active WX pattern continues… Snow has continued in certain areas of Northern Utah today with weak lift and plenty of moisture. This should slowly die off this evening before the snow increases again after midnight tonight. There are three distinct waves that will impact the area from now through Wednesday. NWS has opted to group them all together under the banner of one Winter Storm Warning that extends from midnight tonight through 9 AM on Wednesday. This is likely due to the fact that there will be little if any breaks between these waves for what should seem like almost continuous snowfall for the high Wasatch.

The first wave that will move through tomorrow morning should bring 6-12″ of snow to the Wasatch with the best snow falling north of I-80, but there will be plenty to go around for everybody. Should make for another great powder day tomorrow!

The second wave is similar to the first and will also favor the northern Wasatch. This one moves in late Sunday night into Monday morning. This one should bring another 6-12″ or so. Another great powder day on Monday is likely!

The third and final wave is timing for Tuesday and Tuesday night. This one is the most potent and should give the entire Wasatch a shot at 1-2 feet. There is also the potential for some lake effect snow behind the front.

Overall, we are looking at 1-3 feet, with up to 4 feet in favored locations by the time all is said and done on Wednesday night. Valleys should also see decent snow accumulations with snow levels staying low throughout the event. The long-term is also looking better. Yesterday, the Euro and GFS both wanted to put an end to the progressive pattern and ridge us up until at least Christmas… today, they have both trended back to the idea of only giving us a few days to dig out before they want to progress another trough into the West. This is still 7+ days out and the models have plenty of time to mess with my sanity between now and then so I’m not going to put too much faith in anything they say right now. I’m going to enjoy all the powder that’s coming our way! Happy shredding! WSF

P.S. If you appreciate our forecasts, please do us the grandest favor of sharing us with your friends via word-of-mouth. We don’t do this for profit and therefore have no budget for advertising so sharing us on Facebook and Twitter and whatever other social media is the way we gain exposure. I know you want to keep the secrets of the best powder days to yourself, but if you could share us with your friends just once, it would be much appreciated. Thanks! So stoked!


Saturday, 2:15 PM update:

Enough moisture and lift has kept light snow going in the Salt Lake Valley and the Cottonwoods today longer than expected. If you’re wondering how the ski conditions were this morning, they were . . .


LCC seemed to have at least a foot of new snow when I was up there this morning. Plenty of whooping and hollering going on! With lots more snow to come, we’ll have to update with all the details later this evening once all the 18z model runs are in. Get some!



Powder day on tap! Snow is slowing down in Northern Utah. As of 6 AM there is a narrow band of snow still falling for the Tooele Valley extending across the Salt Lake Valley and through the Cottonwoods toward PC. We forecasted 3-6″ for the mountains north of I-80 and that seems to be exactly what fell according to snow reports at Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. 5-10″ was forecasted for the Wasatch south of I-80. Looks like the Cottonwoods have close to a foot and Park City is around that 5-10″. A lot of these are guesses based on webcams and radar returns from overnight and many resorts still aren’t reporting. And it is still snowing . . . ! So I’d say we did pretty good for ourselves! Additional accumulations of 1-3″ in the Cottonwoods and PC is likely by noon today. Here’s a look at the Snowbird Snowcam (which measures up to 16″):


Next system moves in for Sunday through Monday. This is an advection precipitation event and favors the Northern Wasatch. NWS has hoisted a Winter Storm Watch already to highlight this. This system looks much better now than it did the other day, so we’re feeling optimistic. Another 10-20″ can be expected for Sunday-Monday in the mountains with up to 2 feet in favored locations north of I-80. Lots of Snow! Monday should be an awesome powder day!

The next system moves in late Tuesday and drags a front through the area early Wednesday morning. This system is fairly potent as well as very cold. There will be potential for lake effect snow behind the front on Wednesday. Not going to talk totals quite yet but we’re looking at potential for additional significant accumulations.

After Wednesday it looks like we’ll have at least a 4 day break. Next chance for snow will be Christmas eve or Christmas day. But let’s focus on the a very snowy short term for now!


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18 thoughts on “Final wave . . .

  1. MG

    woot! looks like this storm exceeded expectations! Do you see any ridging in the longer term or should the nice storm pattern continue post christmas?

  2. Prior Air Force Wx Gal

    Gettin’ some up here, gonna enjoy the snow in Ogden! Thanks for your awesome WX blog! We certainly enjoy your updates! Let it snow Utah!!

  3. Laura

    You guys are so great! Thank you for your wonderfully timely updates. I’m driving out to Park City from NorCal on Wednesday. I should hit the Salt Lake Basin around 6pmish. Will the bulk of the weather be through by then? Also, is the Tuesday storm coming across Nevada or dropping down?

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      The majority of the system will be through by Wednesday afternoon. The system will be moving through the Sierra and Northern Nevada but shouldn’t hit those areas as hard as the Wasatch. Should be a relatively smooth journey.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Craig, both days have potential to be amazing. Tuesday will likely be a storm day with heavy snow falling all day. Wednesday will be the day after the storm with only lingering snow showers. So it depends on what you prefer. Travel should certainly be easier on Wednesday.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Avalanche danger will be high tomorrow and Tuesday… So there is a very high likelihood that the canyon will be closed at some point for avalanche control. But it’s hard to say exactly when and for how long.

      1. Ray

        Ok thanks. Guess ill just try to go ASAP. Really appreciate the blog. I work at a DV employee dining and try to spread the good word

  4. James

    Noon update is a bummer… 15″ total for pow mow and now the strongest part of this system is going south..

    1. Dante

      James, 2 weeks ago you were moaning about “we won’t have any more snow for the rest of the season”. There have been great powder days this week. Sounds like you might be a glass-half-empty kind of guy.

      1. James

        Yeah wrong James there bud…. That was my first ever post. Anyways, I was hyped for at least a couple feet.. Even the ~4 inches or so of snow here in Eden is melting away in the rain now. But to keep your glass half full, I’m sure it’s coming, still better than last year.

  5. Tanner McMuff

    Anyone been up to Wolf Mountain lately?… wondering if they got enough snow to open more runs…

  6. MG

    60+inch base depth at snowbird+alta, not too shabby. Any ideas why Snowbird is not close to 100% open like Alta (snowbird is saying 54/84 trails and 7/11 lifts). Does Snowbird need an even higher base depth to be 100% open?

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Snowbird’s closures are mostly due to Baldy and Baby Thunder lifts not being open. Baldy should open tomorrow if it didn’t open today and Baby Thunder doesn’t offer much terrain, so they are much closer to 100% than the statistics might indicate.

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