Last chance… for awhile.

Monday, February 25, 2013 at 8:04 am

Not too much going on with this system…. Looks like we’ll get skunked for the most part…

Monday PM update:

Not too much new to talk about this evening as everything still looks good in the forecast from this morning. Still expect 3-6″ in the Wasatch with 4-8″ in places like the Cottonwoods that are favored by a northwesterly flow.  If anything, today’s 18z NAM and GFS looked slightly better so I’m feeling fairly confident in this forecast.  Snow should peak overnight and then gradually lighten up tomorrow morning.  Some frosting on an already soft base will make for another great day tomorrow.  Sometimes these type of storms can be sleepers that bring more snow than expected, so let’s cross our fingers.  Ridging still forecast to develop later this week, but models still suggest active weather returning for the second week of March.  We’ll see . . . WSF


Skiing was clearly en vogue yesterday as the lines to get up the Cottonwoods were as long as they’ve ever been.  I was able to sneak up LCC relatively early and had a great day at Snowbird, never waiting in a lift line for more than 10 minutes or so, despite the crowds.  Lots of reports of great conditions all over the Wasatch, especially from Snowbasin, where 27″ of snow fell over the weekend! Today is a great day for touring as the snow has had time to settle to help mitigate avalanche danger and is still in excellent condition.

Today we’ll see clouds gradually increase throughout the day as the next system approaches the area. Breezes will also develop along the ridges.  The system for tonight still looks fairly weak.  It has two factors working against it–a lack of any significant moisture tap, and its fast movement.  The system will arrive late this evening between approximately 8 PM-12 AM, moving in the from the northwest. Snow will develop along the front but will turn showery very quickly and should clear out for the most part tomorrow morning.  The system should only be good for about 2-5″ in most of the Wasatch.  The Cottonwoods, however, are favored by the northwest flow and could benefit from a bit of lake enhancement behind the front.  Therefore, I think 4-8″ will be possible up the canyons.   For those of you that have been hoping for more out of this system, keep in mind that it will at least be falling on a soft, fresh base… so it could ski a bit deeper that it actually is.  If you’re willing to “earn your turns”, you’ll experience the same goods we all enjoyed this weekend.

On Thursday, another system will brush far northern Utah.  At best, I just see a few light snow showers for the Northern Wasatch from this feature.  Ridging will build for the upcoming weekend into next week and temperatures will start to warm.  The good news is that this does not appear to be the super dominant ridging that we’ve seen for much of the past two months.  Both major global models indicate a chance for a weak system around the 4th of March and potentially stronger systems the following weekend.  Don’t hang your hats on this forecast quite yet, as its too far out to be sure of anything…but it is certainly worth noting.

Hopefully tonight’s system comes in a bit stronger than currently anticipated.  I could go for another day playing in the fluff tomorrow.  On Wednesday,  I’ll sum up the month of February and take a look at the snowpack numbers, as well as take a look at the teleconnections and the long-range CFSv2 forecasts.


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  • peter

    Tried twice, spent about 2.5 hours sitting in a parked car on wastach…ended up hitting the climbing gym instead….how early did you leave to get ahead of the traffic?

    • I arrived at the mouth of the canyon at about 8:20 … I come at it from the south on Wasatch. Hardly any line there. Waited for about 20-30 minutes as they opened the gates, then zipped up the canyon. Pulled into the Bird at 9:30ish.

  • Anonymous

    Hi WSF. A good friend of mine who frequently skis in Utah referred me to this site. I am planning to a trip to Alta in three weeks time from the East Coast. Since I am new to this site and have never been skiing in Utah, I was wondering if you might be able to give me some idea of what the ski conditions might be like then. Will most of the terrain still be open with good coverage? I am a bit concerned since I have heard that the resorts are behind in total snowfall. Thanks in advance for any advice. I appreciate it.

    • We are a little behind our averages, but all resorts in Utah have pretty much all their terrain open and I do not anticipate this will change anytime soon. March is actually my favorite month for skiing in Utah so I think you’re in for a treat. Check back in the week leading up to your visit and I’ll have a better idea if you can expect some of our famous blower pow!

      • Anonymous

        Wow! Thanks for the prompt response! I was thinking of coming from March21-25. Do you feel that these dates might be too late in the season? I am not overly concerned with timing the trip for fresh snow but do not want to be skiing if there is going to be lots of bare ground. Thanks again!!!

        • As PowWow pointed out, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. Especially in areas like the Cottonwoods where good coverage usually last until Memorial Day.

    • Pow Wow

      No way March is too late in the season – That is Utah’s best month for snowfall usually, the season goes till the end of April. On a good year Snowbird, Alta’s connecting neighbor, stays open till July 4th!

  • WasatchMan

    What exactly does “North West Flow” mean?

    Does that mean the wind will be moving in a NW direction?

    Or does it mean the storm will be moving SW coming from the NW?

    Why do BCC & LCC benefit the most from a NW flow?

    • Yes, it means the flow (upper level winds) will be carrying the storm from the northwest toward the southeast. BCC and LCC benefit from this flow due to the topography of the land. They face west-northwest, so in a flow out of the northwest, it creates lift (orographics) that can cause snow to fall. Hope that answers your questions!

      • WasatchMan

        Yeah I meant South East*

        Absolutely answers my question, thanks so much!

  • scotchipman

    A big percentage of the snow that falls in the Utah mountains is due to