Back In Town

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:49 am


One last day of dry, mild weather before valley rain and mountain snow move into the area on Thursday.  Smaller storm for late Thursday into Thursday night with a stronger system for Friday night through Sunday.  Potential powder day on Friday, and especially on Saturday and Sunday.


A lot to talk about today.  Going to start by apologizing for not being able to answer most questions over the last several days as I was traveling and had only sporadic internet access.  Luckily, the forecast has changed remarkably little since I left last Thursday.

Today is going to be dry and mild again.  The only difference from yesterday will be an increase in clouds as we head through the day and maybe a few ridge top breezes.  The first wave of precipitation will move into the area tomorrow.  Snow should begin by late morning or early afternoon in the high country with rain below about 6,000 feet.  As I’ve said all week, despite having decent moisture, this system is a “ridge buster” and will be losing much of its energy as it undercuts and eventually breaks down the ridge.  Yesterday I said 4-8″ was likely and I’m sticking to that forecast.  I almost never have good confidence in these type of systems.  Also, the flow will be predominantly from the south or southwest, which favors areas like Snowbasin and PowMow as well as Sundance and parts of the Wasatch Back, but does NOT favor the Cottonwoods.  Here is a look at NAM forecasted totals by Friday morning:



You can see that totals are far from impressive with this first wave.  If you are trying to choose between Thursday or Friday for powder, I’d probably say Friday morning is the safer bet right now.  As mentioned above, snow will be increasing Thursday afternoon.   If it takes longer to develop than expected, you could get totally skunked on Thursday.  Similar to last week, it looks like it could be a last chair Thursday/first chair Friday type of storm.

The good news about the first system is that it will pave the way for a stronger system for Friday into the weekend.  This storm is splitting with much of its moisture going south into SoCal and Arizona (where rain is desperately needed!).  Southern Utah should get in on the action of this southern branch as well with potentially significant amounts for the mountains down there.  Northern Utah will be interacting more with the northern split.  Heavy snow should begin Friday evening and continue for a good part of the night and into Saturday, possibly lasting into early Sunday.  This is a complex storm with many “waves” of energy to try to time.  But it looks like 1-2 feet statewide above 6,500 feet could be possible by Monday morning.   Here is a look at the same NAM snowfall through Sunday:



Notice the dramatic increase in accumulated snowfall versus the first system alone.  This system could be a good one for the Wasatch Back specifically, including the PC ridge.

Again, this is a statewide event.  Driving up from AZ yesterday, it was apparent that the Southern Mountains are in desperate need of a good storm.  The systems that northern Utah has enjoyed during February have rarely made it far enough south to benefit these areas.  Luckily it looks like we all stand a good shot a decent snowfall over the next 5 days!

Long range:

GFS has trended slightly toward the EC and GEM in bringing another weak system into the area late on Tuesday, March 4.  All models then have another, potentially stronger system for Thursday, March 6, but the GFS still builds in high pressure that forces the system north of us.  The EC and GEM both allow the system to drop into Utah for some additional snowfall. Most models then agree to build high pressure over the area for the weekend of March 8-10.  This high pressure may be short-lived however as fantasy land models try to break it down around the 11th.

The MJO has now entered Phase 8!  Phase 8 is when Utah starts to see more favorable effects.  Forecast right now is for it to strengthen and for its progress to slow.  What we want to see is for it to keep progressing into the early Phases of 1 thru 4.  (Phase 1 succeeds phase 8).   If it can continue its eastward propagation, we could be looking at a good March… We’ll monitor it as always.


Approaching the end of February and a new storm cycle.  Let’s have a look at the numbers.  The Snowbird snotel station is down about 8% from two weeks ago, now at 74% of average and once again lagging slightly behind the past two years…



However, this is the worst station in all of northern Utah number-wise right now.  A look at the basin-wide snowpack map shows better numbers…


As you can see, numbers in the far northern Wasatch and Western Uintas are still above normal.  We are at 93% around the Ogden Valley and 81% in the Central Wasatch.  Southern Utah has continued to fall farther behind average.  These next couple storms should greatly improve these numbers…



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  • Good morning hope you had a good trip!
    Looks like things are still on track to have some fresh snow for the Wasatch Showdown on this Saturday March 1, 2014 at Brighton Ski Resort.
    I know you said that the cottonwoods are NOT favored by south southwest flow, However having said that I do feel like there will be SOME fresh snow come Saturday morning for the big event do you agree? Also thanks for all you do with the forecasting and welcome back!

  • Great forecast for my arrival Thursday night !!!!! POW!

  • Brad

    Its good to hear that some storms are coming. It has been feeling way too much like early summer lately.

  • Jake

    Could you do a snowpack depth for brighton please? Thanks!

  • Ferdette
  • Philly


    I, too, have a question about the snowfall averages. Have you done any more in-depth analysis of the snowfall averages to determine if the current deficit is statistically significant? I think that would add a bit more to the analysis, rather than just comparing the year-over-year averages.

    Love the work you do, keep it up. Will be coming out to PC for my second trip this year from March 12-16 and plan on hitting PCMR and visiting both Solitude and Sundance for the first time. Can’t wait!

  • Rich

    it looks like the storm may miss Moab this weekend, or am I reading the map wrong?

    • It will be a statewide storm. The maps in the discussion just show snowfall amounts. Since Moab will be all rain, it doesn’t show anything over it. There should definitely be occassional showers in Moab this weekend.

  • Tuan

    Thanks again for the update! Its been a weird year here in Utah. Even though snowfall in the SLC area has been probably better than the last two years, the usual warmth up in the mountains have made for quite a few nasty icy days in the heart of the winter months. I hope we have a typical fluffy March/April.

    On another note, WSF, could you take a peek at how Whistler will like for me next weekend? Thanks!