There Will Be Snow

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:12 am

Wednesday PM update:

Feeling more confident tonight with regard to what to expect over the next several days.  Snow has been falling, mostly lightly, in the far northern Wasatch all day today.  Beaver Mountain and Logan Canyon have seen several inches extending south to Powder Mountain where an inch or two fell today.  Snow should continue most of the night in these same areas.

Snow will become increasingly likely farther south tomorrow.  This includes the SLC/PC area. Moist southwest flow will continue through Thursday night with off and on light snow continuing. On Friday, an impulse should bring more widespread snowfall to the area — likely continuing into Friday night

Another strong surge of moisture (atmospheric river) moves in on Saturday into Sunday.  This has more tropical origins and will raise snow levels off the valley floors on Saturday.  Snow levels will likely peak around 7,500 feet or so Saturday night before falling again late on Sunday.

One final piece of energy expected for Sunday night into Monday to further add to totals…

So how much snow?  Well, the highest confidence right now is for the mountains north of SLC — this includes Wolf Mountain, Beaver Mountain, Snowbasin, and PowMow.  These areas are both favored by the persistent southwest flow, and are closer to the boundary that the best moisture will be tracking along.   NWS has hoisted a Winter Storm Warning for these areas as they will be seeing periodic snowfall from tonight through Monday.  Snow will be measured in FEET.  Official WSW text calls for “2-4 feet with greater amounts possible”.   I have no qualms with those amounts as models have portrayed up to 5″ of liquid!   Obviously, the highest amounts will be above 7,000 feet where it should all be falling in the form of snow all weekend.

As for us down in the SLC/Cottonwoods/PC region, we will likely have to wait a bit longer for the heavy snow to take place.  While I think snow will develop tomorrow and tomorrow night, I’m not optimistic that it will be significant enough for much accumulation — probably just a few inches at best.  By Friday, this area stands a much better chance for good accumulations.  Right now, I think 6-12″ but Friday night is likely.  The big snow in this area will arrive over the weekend when the atmospheric river really gets juicy… A LOT of wet/heavy snow is likely to fall above 8,000 feet in the Cottonwoods and PC.  For now, I think 1-3 feet by Monday evening is the safe bet, but if things come together right, the Cottonwoods could also be looking at more than that.  Time will tell.

Remember, these amounts will be falling over a 4 or 5 day period… so don’t expect to be skiing 4 feet of fresh snow at any given time.  Still, this is going to be a great and snowy weekend for all of Northern Utah.

For Southern Utah, it looks like you’ll have to wait until the weekend, but good snowfall will be likely there as well.  More in the AM… WSF




A moist westerly flow will bring periods of snow to the mountains of Northern Utah tonight through the weekend.  Southern Utah will remain mostly dry until at least late Sunday or Monday when the cold front finally sags south.


Holy tough forecast, Batman!  Extremely complicated series of  systems setting up for us.  To start, I’m going to break this down into 12-hour time periods.

Today:  Clouds will increase with a boundary setting up along the Utah/Idaho border.  By afternoon, enough moisture will fill in along the border for a chance for a few showers in the extreme far north.

Tonight:  The boundary along the Idaho border will slowly sag south.  This will allow moisture to increase in the mountains surrounding PC and the Cottonwoods with snow showers developing.  Light accumulations.

Thursday:  Occasional snow will be possible in a west or southwest flow.  Favoring areas farther north that do well in a southwest flow  (ie Snowbasin).   Light accumulations with moderate accumulations farther north.

Thursday night:  Appears to be a bit of a break right now but snow showers are still a possibility as the moist flow continues.

Friday:  A stronger disturbance will ripple along the boundary into Utah.  More widespread snow is likely on Friday into Friday night.

Saturday: Another disturbance could reinvigorate snowfall across the area.

Sunday:  One final system will move in and finally sweep the boundary south late Sunday into Monday with colder air filtering in.

The GFS and the EC are similar in that they bring only light amounts of snow to most of the Wasatch through Thursday night before bringing in 6-12″ Friday into Friday Night.  As mentioned yesterday, the NAM is crazy right now in that it wants to keep steady, light snow going from tonight through Saturday.  This is what the NAM is currently suggesting

12-km NAM:



Over 25″ by Saturday morning…. The 4-km NAM is even more optimistic:



Nearly 30″ by Friday morning at Alta.  Before you start squealing with girlish glee, I do NOT expect this to even come close to happening.  I think the NAM sees all this moisture and just assumes it must be snowing at Alta.  The Cottonwoods are not particularly favored by a southwest flow and other models don’t support this.  If I were a betting man, I’d say 4-8″ by Friday morning in the Cottonwoods with an additional 6-12″ on Friday into Friday night. As mentioned earlier, places farther north and/or places favored by the southwest flow stand to do a little better.  More snow likely Saturday and again late Sunday into Monday.

To be totally honest, anything can happen over the next few days.  It’s one of the hardest forecasts I can remember.  I think periodic snowfall now through the weekend is the best forecast anybody can offer.  Hopefully that means that amounts will be piling up…  Friday has potential to be a decent powder day, as does Saturday and Monday.

I plan to update frequently.

Long range:

We look to clear out late Monday for a break on Tuesday.  Another system moves into the West on Wednesday.  GFS keeps this system mostly north of us while the EC drops it far enough south to bring snow to northern Utah.  Both GFS and EC have another system moving into the area around Friday, Feb 14.


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  • dante

    Hey, WSF, thanks for all the time you spend trying to sort out the forecast for us! Even if specific snowfall amounts for specific days are unpredictable right now, I get the general expectation.

    What areas are favored by a southwest flow?

  • To be totally honest, anything can happen over the next few days.–!!!

  • royale

    this western storm next Wednesday, any idea of the size and scope of it?

  • Dane Murray

    Any predictions of storm totals at Beaver Mtn?

    • Beaver should do well over the next 48 hours as the boundary is place along the Utah/Idaho border.

  • Laura

    Exciting and challenging forecast! Wherever the totals end up by Sunday, every inch counts, so thank you for keeping us all informed and updated. I’m thinking of taking advantage of the break you are forecasting and driving i80 from NorCal to PC Monday/Tuesday. Will the the break begin Monday afternoon or not until the overnight hours into Tuesday? Can’t wait to enjoy the fresh snow next week!

    • There’s a decent chance we’ll clear out later in the day on Monday, but right now Tuesday looks like a safe bet for travel.

  • AZ

    where’s all the ‘I hate the Wasatch’ whiners now?

  • Snowbasin always seems to do well in a SW flow, as does Sundance, but right now the best snow will likely stay north of SLC.

  • Jer

    WSF, I love the site and use it regularly. Can you incorporate more detail about Powder Mountain in your forecasts? But, maybe use a code word so people don’t flock North and take all my lines? Something like “You’ll Hate This Mountain Resort”?

  • The good news is more snow is on the way, bad news is in a progressive upper level westerly flow like this the models hardly ever get the timing right beyond 36hrs.

    Areas that do well in a low level southerly flow are Sundance, Deer Valley/PC, and Snowbasin/Powder Mtn but everyone will get snow. Enjoy!

  • TonyH

    Love the site! Any prognosis for the northern Wasatch around mid March? I know its a good ways out…3 straight years of coming up empty on Colorado-March trips. Going to try my luck with the Ogden area resorts!

  • Dot Blipman

    Ogden resorts are good because powder can be found for up to a week after storms, but the terrain isn’t as good as cottonwoods. Either way I always go cottonwoods or Ogden, never park city

  • Johnny Chronicseed

    @Dot Blipman .. Amen

  • Mark

    This sentence from the NOAA Cottonwood Canyons forecast has me a bit worried…

    “The Friday storm is more of a grazer now but should bring a burst of snow.”

  • Tram

    Read the newest update, doesn’t sound bad to me

    • Yes, but even so, at this point the snow between now and Friday night is mostly light in nature. The heavier snow moves in over the weekend, I’ll do an update this evening.

      • Güd DiLemma

        So if I’ve got the choice between Brighton or PowMow on Friday, sounds like Powder might be the way to go…?