Still hope . . .

Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 6:14 am

6 PM update:

Phase 2 of this system, a cold northwesterly flow, has finally developed this afternoon in Northern Utah. Snow has filled in throughout most locations in the Wasatch and much of the Wasatch Front this evening. The snow so far is mostly light in nature but it looks like as it continues to enhance this evening, we could have a few hours of moderate to even heavy snow. I think 3-6″ for PC resorts and the rest of the Wasatch Back is likely tonight. 4-8″ for the Cottonwoods and Northern Wasatch, with 2-5″ in the valleys.

This will likely put the Cottonwoods in 8-16″ range for storm totals tomorrow. PC will be in the 4-8″ range for storm totals. Select locations like Sundance which saw 10″ yesterday/last night, will have more. Phase 3 of the system is a weak reinforcing wave tomorrow afternoon that could add a couple more inches in the mountains. I think we’ll end up on the low end of our original 10-20″ forecast, so it won’t be a total dud, but not quite what we need or what we were hoping for. Hopefully tonight over-performs… if it under-performs, it will definitely be a dud.

Long range continues to show Western U.S. troughing beyond President’s Day, too early to tell if there will be any big storms, but at the very least, the door for bigger storms looks to be opening. Good news!


Phase 1 of this storm system, the southerly and southeasterly flow, didn’t do much for most of the Wasatch. We were expecting 5-10″ by this morning. What we are seeing is 1-10″ with most resorts in the 1-3″ range. The big winners were the S. Utah resorts, which is not a surprise as that is where the low tracked. They saw 6-10″. Sundance, which is often favored in a southerly and southeasterly flow, is also reporting 10″. The Cottonwoods, which saw the majority of their snow in a heavy band yesterday afternoon is in the 5-6″ range. PC and areas north saw 1-3″.

The best precip band last night remained along the Ut/Idaho border. As the Low starts to slowly track East, it is going to pull that band into the Wasatch Front and Wasatch today. It is moving very slowly, so as long as it holds together, we should see some decent and persistent snow today, possibly into tonight. Here is the radar as of 5:45 AM:


The blue snow band to the Northwest of the GSL will slowly migrate into the area over the next few hours. It is already snowing in most areas north of SLC. My one concern with this band is will it have enough orographic forcing to push it up into the mountains? Or will it be one of those times where the snow seems to get trapped in the valleys?

As for total snowfall, I obviously have to downgrade my totals a bit, at least for the areas that haven’t really seen that much so far. 10-20″ is still possible for the Cottonwoods (though 20″ might be a stretch) and other areas that already have several inches. But areas that haven’t seen much snow yet will likely fall in the 6-14″ range. This is exactly why I was whining about having so little confidence in this storm all week. This type of storm can be very productive, or a major dud. And it’s very hard to know which. But let’s hope Phase 2, snow today, and Phase 3, a trailing wave tomorrow will still produce decent snow to make us all happy.

Good news is that most major models are still showing troughing developing in earnest in the West after President’s Day. The pattern change we’ve all been waiting for? We’ll see.


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  • Anonymous

    Trying to decide if we ski at powder mountain today. Have an 8pm flight out tonight.
    Been here a week hoping for fresh snow. Forecast still calls for fresh today, but looking at radar its shrinking in coverage and intensity.
    Do you think we gave a chance for 6″ before mid afternoon?

    • Could be a chance, but I’m not too optimistic at this point.

      • Anonymous

        Decided to ski powder mountain. Glad we did. Amazing how much difference even the few inches makes.
        Snowing now but mostly lightly.

  • scotchipman

    If you look back yesterday at the 12Z WRF-GFS it was only forecasting between 3-6″ of snow between 5am on Friday and 5am on Saturday above 7,000′ in the Wasatch.

  • Anonymous

    Hello! I would just like to comment on how useful this site is! You do an excellent job with providing insight into the weather patters of the Wasatch! Given the recent pattern, do you think it is unlikely to have any more big storm cycles the rest of the season for the Wasatch? Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • There will definitely be storm cycles. Late February-April is historically one of our snowiest periods. Whether these storm cycles will be enough to keep us near average in terms of snowpack remains to be seen.

  • Brett Stahl

    I would love to see a post about your thoughts on the differences between last winter and this and a average Utah winter.

    • What specifically are you looking for? Overall weather trend comparisons? Snowpack numbers? We’ll try to make it happen.

      • Brett Stahl

        Both would be great, weather trends and snowpack numbers.