The Quintessential Christmas Day Snowstorm

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 6:37 am

PM update:

Storm system is rapidly approaching the area with clouds and winds increasing over the last several hours. A few snow showers will be possible this evening,  but the heavy stuff should hold off until after midnight when the cold front moves through.  Snow will pile up before opening tomorrow so first chair is going to be awesome!  Snow showers will linger all day tomorrow so fresh stuff will still be around if you can’t get up there early.  Totals (posted below) still look good.  Enjoy your Christmas holiday!  WSF



Winds will pick up today (Wednesday) before snow moves in late tonight into tomorrow morning.  Much of Northern Utah will wake up to snowfall on Christmas Day.  Powder should be awesome!


Yesterday was truly amazing.  After so much terrain was closed around the area on Monday, Tuesday had a perfect layer of fluff on top of the wet stuff that made for my second best powder day of the year so far.

A perfect Christmas storm is moving into the region today.  Snow will begin late tonight, spreading south by morning.  Much of the Wasatch Front should wake up to a white Christmas, just like the movies.  Wide-eyed children will be unwrapping presents, hardcore skiers will be slaying dry, fluffy Utah powder.

It looks like the heaviest snow will fall during the morning hours before turning showery.  It depends a lot on location, but there should be at least a few inches on the ground by the time lifts start spinning.  I’d suggest getting up there early and getting free refills.  Snow could continue at times Thursday night, so Friday could also be a very good day!  As for amounts, I’m thinking the following by Friday morning:

  • Cottonwoods 12-18+”
  • Park City / Sundance 8-14″
  • Resorts north of I-80 8-14″
  • Eagle Point / Brian Head 6-10″
  • Uintas 10-16″

This low density snow can pile up fast and if we get a good period of post-frontal orographic lift, the amounts could be higher.

A break late Friday thru Saturday.  Next system drops into the area out of the northwest on Sunday and Monday.  The models have settled on a good track for this system to bring us snow, but the system itself lacks moisture.  It’s extremely cold, and sometimes that can make up for the lack of moisture.  Right now I’d say accumulations will stay under a foot with that system, but it definitely could surprise us.

Long range:

After about 12/30, it looks like we’ll see at least a few days break in the action as the ridge amplifies over the west coast and moves inland just a touch.  Both the GFS and EC long range ensembles hint that the pattern could turn active again by the end of the first week of January.  Januaries have been rough to us the last few years, but hopefully this year will be different.


As promised, here is a look at our snowpack situation.

Blue line = average,  Red line = 2011/2012 season,  Green line = current season


Snowbird leaped from about 63% of median to 109% in just 3 days!!!!!  We are not paralleling 2011/2012 any more!


Brighton was already ahead of 2011/2012 but jumped up to close to average after this storm.


Park City also saw a large leap that got them close to average.


Tony Grove Lake in Cache County, which had fallen back below average briefly, is now at 134% of median!!!

Overall, the numbers looks good.  Most of the Wasatch is either at or above average.  Look at the improvement in the basin map numbers over the 3-day period:



And now the numbers on December 23rd:


What an improvement a few days can make in our snowpack situation!  Remember when people were cancelling their trips a couple weeks ago? I’m telling ya, Utah finds a way to deliver!

With more snow in the forecast, these numbers will improve further!  Celebrate good times!



PS  Not sure I will update tomorrow on the holiday.  I will definitely be skiing however, and I assume I’ll at least post a quick paragraph about reports, etc.   If you want to get WSF a Christmas gift, please share this page with friends via social media or by word of mouth.  We don’t pollute your social media feeds with sponsored ads, and rely solely on reader recommendations to grow.   Have a wonderful Christmas and I hope you get to do some powder skiing/riding! Cheers!

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  • Utah is for Liars

    It’s a long season, those numbers still have plenty of time to fall back below average.

    Ski Utah: to make the 500 inch per year lie work, we measure and add cumulative snowfall at 6x the accepted frequency for actually gathering snow data. I wonder how much snow alta really gets if they measured properly instead of their bullplop method which disregards settling? I’m going to go with 350-400 inches.

    That by no means minimizes the value of this site, or the solid weather guessing WSF puts out. I just find it humorous that this abysmal backwater of a state managed to lie and manipulate it’s way into the pantheon of great ski destinations.

    • Yup, you’re absolutely right! I’d stay away if I were you.

    • Dave

      I know someone who is getting coal in their stocking! You’re a mean one Mr

    • brig

      Damn the snow fraud. Damn the liars. Merry face shots!

    • The accepted frequency to measure new snowfall is upto 4 times a day with a minimum of 6hrs between observations. Those places that only measure snow fall once a day will obviously show less snowfall with the increased settling and compression. In Utah there are suspect snow fall reports from resorts (Snowbird and others) and good reports (Alta lifts and others). There are known historic wind loading snow fall reports (Alta UDOT plot and others) that continued to be used so they can compare to historic numbers. Snow water equivalent numbers can not be manipulated nearly as much, those numbers prove what most of us know which is Utah receives a lot of high quality low density snow which makes for some of the best skiing in the world.

    • Fred

      WOW CO hater? Never thought I’d see TROLLs on a ski weather forecasting blog. Pretty sad life you must live.
      Crawl back to your parent’s basement bro.

    • Hugh Conway

      translation: I moved here from the east coast three years ago and it has ruined my life of privilege to have hit a couple of “bad” seasons in a row.

    • Sam

      Bwahahahah now that’s the Christmas spirit!


      Merry Christmas! Thanks for all your hard work all year long.

    • brig

      I think your confusing upper LCC with PC snowfall totals. Those silly Engen boys. What were they thinking?

    • Weak

      Just a liberal troll from Cali or the east coast.

      Nothing to see here folks…

  • Marcus

    Rock on WSF! Great work as always, super stoked about this forecast. QPF is looking gnarly 😉

  • Roger

    You are killing those of us stuck in the rain on the East Coast! Love the blog anyway. Consistently outstanding work.!

  • Tom

    Who is Captain BItter in the first comment?

  • Sarah Ferguson

    I LOVE your reports even though I don’t ski (I’ll be out snowshoeing in that pow tomorrow or Friday though!). One small quibble, and I hate to be that way but I’m a scientist and can’t help it. Although a median spanning almost 30 years should be very close to the mean/average, it’s not the same thing as an average. I’m seeing the phrase “close to average” and “percent of average” but those figures are showing the median.

    That said, I enjoy your reports not only for the information and education but because you’re a terrific writer. Thank you for what you do!!!

    • Yes, I’m not using them interchangeably actually. The blue line in the graphs is the average. However, the percent given in the graph is based on the median. In general, the median is actually slightly less than the average. So our percentages with regard to median look slightly better than when based on average. You’ll notice I use “median” when giving the percentages. Thank you for the kind words!

  • Tim Bowers

    From the NWS…”SNOW ACCUMULATIONS…10 TO 20 INCHES WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS ON WEST FACING SLOPES.” – OMAI. Lot’s of nice people on Santa’s list in Utah this year.

  • Alan

    The grumpy guy with the first comment must be from Vail….haha stay there

  • Brett B Gelbert

    i love this site. These guys are pretty on tap with good information. Thanks for all the info. Keep it up and have a great Christmas.

  • eric lewis

    I understand that is not actually snow in those photos that Alta posts, but fine styrofoam that they spray all over to fool us! Truth, it never snows in LCC, from what I hear! Have a great holiday shredding it tomorrow. also here in Eastern Canada we are melting down, but I will make my annual LCC pilgrimage soon enough….

  • Thanks for all your hard work & Merry Christmas! See y’all in February!

  • Aaron

    When do you think PC resorts will be opening most of their terrain? Hope everyone has a merry christmas and enjoys the new powder! Wish I was there!

  • Never fear, I hand washed my car yesterday, and i mever do that. Even dried it qith a towel, bring on the great xmas blizzard! Great job WSF!

    Lol @ troll guy, who the hell trolls a snow forecast?

  • Tim Bowers

    Enjoy the Christmas storm, kids. Models are keeping it dry from the 30th to at least the 3rd and quite possibly through the 7th.

  • Frustrated

    5 days ago you were claiming we would have a “meager” storm for Christmas and then it would be dry through the end of the year. Now that is clearly not the case, so instead of being a negative nancy with every fucking comment, why don’t you focus on the fact that conditions over the next 5 days are going to be awesome and hopefully a storm or two pops up in the long range.

    Pessimists like you drive me up the wall! You clearly don’t live here. You’re the equivalent of a back seat driver. Probably sitting on the east coast with your dick in your hand behind a desk. If you were actually in Utah you wouldn’t be looking for something to complain about every day!

    • Tim Bowers

      see also Evan’s entry dated 20-Dec-2014.

  • Aaron

    Probably some fat ass that sits in front of the computer all day wacking off to porn, and is just jealous that some of us actually enjoy ourselves and the opportunities mother nature provides! Douchebag!

    • tim bowers

      nailed it.

  • VermontGal in Utah

    Merry Christmas all! I was sort of glad that my flight back to visit family in Vermont was cancelled… I’ll be skiing powder for Christmas instead of suffering in an icy rain. Although, on the flip side, I’ll be taking my Nordic ice skates* when I do go, for some big wild ice!
    *there’s no such thing as bad weather, just not enough types of gear.
    **also trying to put these comments back on the positive 😉

  • Kath

    Wow heading to Utah from Australia next week, Hopefully I meet some awesome positive people just like Aspen and Tahoe over the last couple of trips. Find some positive Christmas spirit dudes! Happy White Christmas to all!