A Christmas storm is going to bring us typically light and fluffy Utah snow — all the way to the valley floors. White Christmas! A cold, unstable flow keeps us active into next week.
Our big atmospheric river event is finally over and snow totals varied greatly, but 72-hour totals are approximately as follows:
- LCC: 28-32″
- BCC: 16-19″
- PC: 12-15″
- Snowbasin/Powder Mtn/Beaver: 16-24″
- Sundance: 17″
Not surprisingly LCC overperformed again as it so often does in a northwest flow. Every other area fell right into the forecasted amounts. The most incredible numbers were the SWE numbers, in which some locations pushed 4″ of liquid. If this were a colder storm, that would equate to up to 60″ of snow! It was an interesting storm because it is great news for the season moving forward and great base-building snow. On one hand we’re all stoked. But on the other hand, there was so much low elevation rain, mashed potatoes snow, and wind that it wasn’t the best storm for actual skiing/riding. Yesterday several resorts weren’t even able to open. Hats off to ski patrol for having the courage to make the mountain safe for us and make the necessary calls.
Is it just me, or does it seem like we’ve been talking about this Christmas storm for weeks? At least 10 days… Well, the models have performed well, because here it is! A cold, trough is going to drop into the region Wednesday night with snow beginning in northern Utah on Thursday morning. Snow levels will fall almost instantly to all valley floors. Winter Storm Watches already hoisted for both mountains and valleys:
This system doesn’t have nearly the QPF of our atmospheric river, but it does have good moisture and cold air, so what does fall will pile up quickly. Here is the GFS graphical view of this system:
You can see it shows about 15″ of snow in the upper Cottonwoods by Friday PM. Would not be surprised if this is a little underdone. For right now, I’m going to say 12-18″ in the Cottonwoods is likely by midday Friday with 8-14″ elsewhere. This is a bit conservative and I would not at all be surprised if we see more. The NAM isn’t quite as on board with the totals as I’d expect it to be so I’m having a few reservations going higher. As for the valleys, it really depends on where you live, but all locations north of Cedar City should see at least some snow. Anywhere from 2-6″ on valley floors with up to 10″ on the benches. White Christmas wishes do come true! I suggest everybody stay at home with their families on Christmas Day. I’ll take care of the skiing for you… 😉
After Friday, we remain in a cold northwest flow. That could keep showers around into this weekend at times. The next wave moves in Sunday into Monday. Right now this doesn’t look like a strong system, however, it does generate a long duration of at least semi-moist northwest flow. These type of systems often surprise us.
No matter what angle you look at it. The next week is going to rock. We have a much better base right now, especially on the upper mountain (I’ll take a look at snowpack tomorrow), and we have a couple cold winter-like storms in the forecast that are going to make the skiing great. The low sun angle will keep the quality of the snow from these storms good for many days and once the backcountry settles a bit, the skiing there should be excellent. If you can’t tell, I’m stoked. And you should be too!