Turn on the ho-ho-hose!

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 6:29 am

Update:  A few snow showers are falling in places along the Wasatch front this morning with a bit of moisture streaming into the region. Don’t expect it will do much for us, but be aware that there could be a few snow showers mainly this morning. 


Dry weather today (Thursday) and tomorrow before things start to pick up.  Northwest flow Thursday thru Tuesday should deliver copious high elevation snow to the Northern Mountains.  Another colder storm timing for Christmas Day!


Finally back in Utah after being in NYC since the end of November.  I made sure to pack a good forecast with me when I came home.  So now that I’m home and not updating from my phone, let’s get down into the details… You’re going to like ’em!

We start off dry today and tomorrow and a mild inversion continues in the valleys with some haze.  The first system of note will pass through Friday night.  This is a weak little guy that at best might just bring a few light mountain snow showers, but it will act as a primer and set the stage for things to come.

Saturday night into Sunday a moist (atmospheric river) northwest flow develops over the area.  If you’ve been reading this site for awhile, when I say “northwest flow”, it should immediately pique your attention:



This northwest flow will get snow going for the Wasatch Saturday night and snow should continue thru at least the day on Monday.  We are going to be on the southern edge of this “river” and that means that it will favor areas to the north.  I see Logan Pass and Beaver Mountain really getting hammered.  The other thing to watch will be snow levels.  I don’t think they’ll be as high as our atmospheric river event last February, but they should be well above valley floors.  Probably bouncing around between 6,500 and 7,500 feet.  So how much snow can we expect? It’s still early and these events are extremely hard to forecast as slight deviations from north to south can affect precipitation amounts drastically.  Here is the current model prediction through Tuesday:


You can see it paints 1-2″ of liquid over the area, which would translate to 1-2 feet of snow over the highest elevations.  Again, I think the areas that are your best bet would be either up north of I-84, or the Cottonwoods, which do well in northwest flows.  Sunday, Monday and possibly even Tuesday should all have fresh snow to shred, albeit of a bit heavier-than-normal variety.

It looks like Tuesday we might get a break as the “hose” retreats northward again when the jet buckles.  However, indications are that we will see it redevelop on Christmas Eve with a stronger, colder wave of energy moving into the area on Christmas Day.  At this point (and It is still very early), it looks like it will drop snow levels to valley floors and we could be looking at a very snow Christmas in Northern Utah.  Here is the same model output shown previously, but now extended through Christmas Day:



Translation: a potential for A LOT of snow fall over the next 8 days or so….


I know things have been bad and many have realized that this season so far has paralleled 2011-2012 very closely.  A quick look at snowpacks right now reveals that you are right.  Green line is this year in the graphs below, red line is 2011-2012 and blue line is average:

snowbird_snotel brighton_snotel thaynes_snotel


Snowbird, Brighton, and Thaynes Canyon (Park City) respectively…  So clearly we are hurting…

Here is a broader look at the West right now:



As you can see by the numbers, it could be better… But it could be a lot worse too.  Luckily, all these numbers are going to improve by leaps and bounds over the next 10 days.  I’ll post an updated look later next week when all is said and done.

Thanks for staying patient with the forecast the last few weeks!  There is a reason I stay optimistic, Utah seems to always find a way.  Let’s hope this forecast delivers!


P.S. If you want more frequent updates as this upcoming pattern approaches, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@WasatchSnow), and Instagram (@WasatchSnowForecast)

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11 thoughts on “Turn on the ho-ho-hose!

  1. Steve

    Would you expect Park City to do well with this forecast? Skiing here is very limited, we are desperate!

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast Post author

      Steve, Park City should certainly get precipitation. They are not as favored by a NW flow as the Cottonwoods and snow levels could be an issue at their lowest elevations. The Christmas storm will be much colder. So PC should do well, just maybe not as well.

  2. Spank Tickleman

    Dang it, Evan! See what happened there? You came back and here comes the good snow with you. Don’t ever go out of town between November and April again! Finally winter has arrived!

  3. Scot Chipman

    Great to see snow back in the forecast, should be a nice storm for areas north of I-80. One thing to note is the surface winds on up to around 6,500 ft (800mb) stay mainly southerly through Monday afternoon which does not make for a classic northwest flow storm that us Cottonwood skiers love to see.

  4. Wasatch Freeriders

    Absolutely puking in Herriman/Htown. Been solid for the past hour with big flakes accumulating on hard surfaces. Hoping it makes its way to the Cottonwoods.

  5. Steelydad

    I apologize for my ignorance but do we want snow levels to be high or low? Logically, I’d think you want them low (if it’s snowing in the valley it must also be in the mountains) but you make it sound like it’s preferable for them to be high. Thanks for the education!

  6. Tim Bowers

    After some mega blip in the 192-384hr period on the 18-Dec 18Z GFS, model runs returned to reality. 06Z runs from 19-Dec-15 for this weekend’s and Christmas’ storms look similar to 00Z and yesterday morning’s 12Z with (what I expect to see reported) 2″ Saturday, 8-12″ Sunday and 2-5″ over Xmas and the 26th for Park City/Canyons. Increase those amounts by 50% in the Cottonwoods. Still, the 27th-3rd period looks mostly dry with perhaps some dusting to 3″ around New Years’.

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