Today’s guidance slowed the onset of precipitation a few hours. We might not see snow start falling until around 7 or 8 am in the Cottonwoods/PC area, earlier up north. Definitely a day to wait until the afternoon hours if you’re hoping for some powder. NAM/GFS/Euro were a bit drier as well. I still think this morning’s forecasted amounts could verify, but I’ll admit I am a bit concerned. Just not much moisture to work with…
The big wild card is lake effect/enhancement. This could develop in the cold pool on Sunday night / Monday morning but it may be a bit too far west to benefit the Cottonwoods, instead hitting the SLC valley. In short, a lot of question marks with this system. Let’s just hope the northwest flow overcomes the lack of moisture.
A cold system will drop into the area tonight with snow developing on Sunday morning and lasting into Monday. Last chair Sunday, first chair Monday will be prime. A break in the action develops by Tuesday with cold air lingering.
The last two days have been epic in the Wasatch, especially in the Cottonwoods. I skied on Thursday. I wasn’t able to go yesterday. It was painful watching all the deep powder photos pouring in around me. This about sums up my experience:
But don’t feel too bad for me, I’ll be skiing today tomorrow and Monday at resorts and then probably in the backcountry for the rest of the week.
Today is a break. However it is short-lived as clouds will be on the increase today ahead of the next system which is already affecting the Pacific NW. This bugger isn’t packing the most moisture or strongest dynamics with it, however, it is relatively slow moving and very COLD — so what does fall will pile up very quickly with such high ratios.
Snow should begin Sunday around sunrise or maybe just before, depending on your location with areas farther north seeing it develop sooner. There probably won’t be more than an inch or two on the ground by the time ski lifts start running but snow should continue through the day. Last chair should be the best chair. Snow will continue off and on through Sunday night before tapering off on Monday. Here is the latest NAM forecast for the Upper Cottonwoods:
You can see a total of about 11″ by the end of the day Monday. The higher resolution 4km NAM shows the following:
It shows 19″ by Monday at 5am…. This model almost always overdoes things, so please take this with a massive grain of salt. However, when it has been the more accurate projection, it’s usually been in cold storms like this one where orographics and/or lake enhancement were major factors.
Personally, I compromise between those two models. Our forecast is for 10-15″ for the Cottonwoods. There could certainly be more, especially in LCC if things go our way. Elsewhere, accumulations will be lighter. 6-12″ for mountains north of I-80 and 4-8″ for PC. Unfortunately, PC which really needs a big, cold system to help fill in the lower elevations is not going to be overly favored by this storm. Still, better than nothing and we could always be surprised.
After this storm we clear out by Tuesday with cold air in place. This will allow snowmaking to continue where still needed, and combined with the low sun angle, it should keep the backcountry in absolutely perfect condition. Check with the UAC before venturing in the backcountry and please take an avalanche/backcountry safety course if you haven’t already.
The next storm at this point doesn’t look to be here until at least the 4th or 5th of January. The GFS drops one system mostly to our north and east then undercuts the ridge with stronger systems by the end of the first week of January. The Euro drops as stronger, colder system into our area around the 5th but doesn’t undercut the ridge as much. Time will tell, no point stressing about it now. At the very least, we should be thankful we can already see an end to our break before it’s even begun.
Take a look at snowpack numbers, it’s nice to see so much above 100%: