Good news, Good news (Friday PM update)

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

Friday PM update:

Watches have been changed to Warnings in the Wasatch.  Snow will start to increase in the Wasatch tonight under moist warm advection flow ahead of the front.  The front is speeding up again and we expect it to move through the area from north to south tomorrow morning.  It should move through areas north of SLC from 7-9 AM, SLC/Park City/Cottonwoods around 9 AM, and then through the rest of the Southern Wasatch through noon.  Very heavy snow will likely accompany the front with snow rates of 2-3″/hr possible and even some embedded lightning.  Also, high winds are likely along and ahead of the front.  I still expect 3-6″ with the front itself.

Snow intensities will lighten up or even stop all together behind the front before a cold northwest flow sets up in the afternooon and orographics and potential lake effect set up for Saturday evening/night.  I’d expect another 6-12″ in this orographic flow through Sunday morning, which would put storm totals at 10-18″.  NWS has come back down to earth a bit and is now forecasting 10-20″ for the Wasatch, including the Cottonwoods.

The other concern is wind loading in the morning hours that could create dangerous avalanche conditions. If I were you, I’d try to stay out of the backcountry tomorrow, or at least consult the Utah Avalanche Center before going.

If you are looking for the best place to ski this weekend, you might consider Snowbasin or PowMow on Saturday and the Cottonwoods on Sunday.  Tomorrow’s front will move through the north first, so ‘Basin and PowMow will get more snow early in the day, and the winds should die down quicker there.  The Cottonwoods will benefit from good orographics and hopefully some lake effect on Saturday night and should be money on Sunday.  Just my two cents . . .

Tuesday storm still looking pretty good!

See you in the morning!  WSF


After all the bad news of the last couple days, we’ve been on a 24-hour streak of good trends in weather models.  One of the weak impulses we mentioned yesterday that would move through today is currently bringing mostly light snow to the Wasatch Front.  Snow is falling in the Cottonwoods right now that will create a nice fresh layer on top of what they had yesterday.  Up north, it looks like it’s snowing at least at Snowbasin, where decent orographics are in play.  Today should be a good, if not great, ski day though I expect the snow showers to start clearing out later this morning.

Tonight, winds will be on the increase throughout the area, with gusts on the ridge tops approaching 100 mph by tomorrow morning.  This could cause a lot of wind loading of the snow that fell yesterday and today and could put several lifts on wind hold during the morning hours.  The front is timing for a little bit later than earlier expected and will likely move through the area around mid-day or early afternoon.  This will bring a brief period of heavy snow with a quick 3-6″ possible along the front.  Then there might be a break in the action as the unstable cold pool aloft moves into the area.  By evening and Saturday night, orographically and lake-enhanced snow showers will become widespread and possibly heavy.  To me, I would guess this will add another 6-12″ in the Wasatch with locally great amounts possible downwind of the GSL.  Roughly, that would put snow totals at about 10-18″ with more possible in areas like the Cottonwoods.

NWS totals are slightly more optimistic.  Winter Storm Watch highlights are suggesting 1-2+ feet.  The NWS Cottonwoods forecast is currently standing at 15-28″.  I think there is potential for that much snow especially if a good lake effect band develops, but we were reminded recently that you can’t forecast based on potential and the most honest forecast is to look at the most likely scenario instead.

Here is an updated look at the snowfall totals for this system from the WRF model that we posted yesterday:


As you can see, there is an even more vigorous band of heavy snowfall southeast of the GSL than we saw yesterday.  Still, lake effect snow is incredibly difficult to forecast, so I don’t want to depend on its formation too much.  Either way, Sunday is going to be a great powder day throughout the Wasatch.

The other bit of good news is the Monday night/Tuesday system continues to look stronger again.  Due to the inconsistencies in the models, I’m still going to take a cautious approach, but it looks like 4-8″ of additional snowfall will be possible from this system.

Beyond that it looks like we’ll have at least 5 days of quiet weather as ridging returns.  There are some suggestions it could get active again the second week of March.  We’ll see . . .


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23 thoughts on “Good news, Good news (Friday PM update)

  1. Ullr's Bastard Child

    FATHER, you have acquiesced to my demands! The ridging shall end! The snow falleth, should not have doubteth father!!

    Ullr akbar!!! Ullr akbar!!!

  2. Anonymous

    Hello WSF! At long last:-). I am heading out to BCC/LCC on March20th for five days of skiing. I know it might be difficult to forecast out that far but do think that there will be at least some new some in early March. Also, do anticipate that the ski conditions will be decent around that time in terms of coverage. Thanks for all your insight and great forecasts!

  3. rad120

    So if I’m going to be in PC next Friday-Tuesday, I should probably plan on making this more of a drinking trip than a skiing trip? Bummer.

    1. Tmoney

      Not sure if I would go that far. If we get another round of good snow tues, there is a chance that the snow will still be really good later in the week. Especially given the hig probability of avie danger and the fact that some terrian will not open till thur or fri anyway. If you are willing to work a little that is. More snow is always possible that far out as well.

  4. peter

    hey nws just posted an audio on facebook saying storm is hitting slc at 8am…also sounds like they think ogden gets hit harder than slc, at least with the initial cold front if not the potential lake effect…what do you think about timing? and snowbasin vs. snowbird tomorrow? Thanks!

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Peter, you’re spot on. 12z and 18z model runs are back to the original timing of the front so 8-10 AM sounds right for the SLC area, earlier for the areas to the north.

      QPF plots are showing better snow with the front north of I-80… and it will be arriving earlier so it will already have started piling up by the time the lifts start running. So I’d say Snowbasin tomorrow and Snowbird on Sunday might just be the perfect plan.

  5. Mark

    Given the high winds expected tomorrow, and the fact that we are staying at the Canyons, do you have a recommendation for tomorrow that would maximize powder depth and minimize winds?

    Thanks. Love the local in-depth forecasts.


  6. Anonymous

    Do you think the SLC airport will be affected tomorrow morning? I am scheduled to land at 9:45, right when the cold front comes through…

  7. George

    Do you think the SLC airport will be affected tomorrow morning? I am supposed to land at 9:45am, right when the cold front comes through..

  8. Colby

    Hi Wsf,
    Could you take the time to explain to me what causes the wind to be pulled toward a storm before the fronts arrival, and why after the front the wind is moving in the same direction as the front? Essentially opposite directions before and after an event. I don’t just mean when our storms come in either. Seems like big cumie heads will pull wind in from all directions.

    Thanks, Colby

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