Is there a more odious phrase in the English language than “high pressure”?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 7:50 am

High pressure is in control for now, with bluebird conditions.  Inversions will be re-developing in the valleys over the next few days.  Systems will be riding to our north this weekend but could brush northern Utah with enough energy for occasional snow showers in the mountains.

One system will move through on Saturday and another late Sunday into Monday.  These systems at this point look meager, which is a disappointment as there were some positive signs with these systems just a couple days ago but it looks like high pressure will win this battle.

High pressure regains full control next week.  We continue to struggle to get a long-term pattern change into the area.   These “one-and-done” systems won’t cut it.  Still, snowpack numbers are still ok.  Here’s a look at how the latest storm impacted the Cottonwoods/PC area:



Snowbird remains above the 30-year median.  If we didn’t see another snowflake for the rest of January, we’d finish the month right at the median.

Park City, which was running behind, got some help from this storm.  They are still below the median, but only just:



As we were reminded on Monday, forecasts can change in a hurry.  So it might not look great right now but anything outside of 5 days is totally subject to change.  Just be thankful you’re not in Tahoe right now… poor guys out west really can’t catch a break.


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37 thoughts on “Is there a more odious phrase in the English language than “high pressure”?

  1. Thad


    So defeating. Jan. 18-24 window, any glimmer of hope? Best case realistic scenario…? Should I reschedule?

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast Post author

      There is always hope that the system could dig farther west and south than currently indicated on Sunday night and Monday, back to it’s previous solution. That could bring good snowfall. But as the models stand right now, a few inches looks much more likely than anything significant.

  2. AZ

    No kidding about Tahoe. I bought the Epic pass this year and was going to give it a shot at Heavenly or Northstar. As it looks now I should take my boat to lake Tahoe instead. Any thoughts on which resort there is better (Heavenly or Northstar) and if they could recover before presidents day? I know weather can change quickly but it seems they’ll need a stream of storms to recover. Thx

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast Post author

      I grew up in Tahoe, at the base of Heavenly in fact. Heavenly and Northstar are both struggling mightily with snow right now. I would recommend Kirkwood if you can make it. Just about 45 minutes south of Heavenly and it’s on the West side of the crest and therefore gotten much more snow. Better terrain too, if you ask me.

    2. Jen

      Heavenly is brutal right now. They seem to have got the short end of the stick with every storm that has passed .. Northstar is faring a little better; however, with the warm temps and lack of storms this month it is taking a toll on the snowpack significantly. I would say your best bet is Kirkwood. The Northshore received an OK amount of precip in December so I would say if one bigger storm hit Northstar would be good by Presidents Day. Heavenly on the other hand needs a lot of help. Stick with the Wood. 🙂

  3. Aaron

    was there the 8th-12th had agreat time,first time skiing alta.. was so good i scheduled another trip march 27th- 30th.. need new boots so i figured it would be a good time to get a good deal, how are conditions usually that late in the season?

    1. Brian Harris (@hongziyang)

      Here’s a link for the wasatch front, you can tweak which stations exactly are included, historical data etc. to your hearts content :

      the ‘high resolution’ option makes it super big, which is nice.

      If you want endless options/geographic areas:
      (it’s really just a landing page that feeds you to the charts with those specific stations selected)

  4. Aaron

    i would in a heartbeat if i could find a job there! you guys are lucky to live in such an awesome place with so much to outdoors

    1. Connor

      It would very much be worth it. We usually have good storms and solid snow until the end of March and then it transitions into spring skiing. The dates you mentioned will be just as good as january or early feb.

  5. Evan

    Any thoughts on Jackson Hole this time next week? Do the models there look more favorable for the 21st/22nd?

  6. Mark

    Can you explain how it is that we are faring so well in terms of snowpack vs. the 30 year average yet the average historical snowfall for Alta in January is 90+ inches and we’ve received what, 20-25 inches this month? Is this comparing apples to oranges? Is YTD snowpack significantly different than YTD snowfall?

      1. Mark

        That doesn’t make sense either because, again using Alta as an example, they have received 188 inches so far this season and if you add up the historical averages for Oct – Jan you get 293. So how are we above average when we’re short more than 100 inches compared to average?

      2. Mark

        Oh wait – you’re talking median and I’m looking at average. Those two are definitely not the same thing. So I think I understand now…

        1. Wasatch Snow Forecast Post author

          Yes, and we are only part way thru january and these graphs measure snow water equivalent, which we had big, dense in December that boosted the snow water equivalent without as big a boost to inches

  7. Tim Bowers

    I do have to say that I do not like this new upgraded GFS model (formerly known as the GFS Parallel). No, and I mean NO snow for at least the next 10+ days is progged from the 12Z model output. At least we got the NAM, Canadian GEM and Navy GEM models to keep the hope alive for anything in the coming days. Heck, even the rarely mentioned UK Met model is providing some hope for snow Friday night.

    1. Evan

      Just fu**ing kill me. 48 hours ago looked like next week was going to be stormy and now we’re going 10 days without hope. I just need to move to UT so that I can stop gambling on the weather.

    2. Tim Bowers

      Spoke too soon. 12Z Canadian model really backs off on their precip forecast the next 10 days. The Friday night event, according to this GEM model, is weaker, but does improve matters for Monday’s event, but backs off on the Thursday wave. colon cuss colon. We really need Friday to be better than forecasted, even wetter than the current NAM hints at, so the ridge can be weaker than the GFS thinks it’ll be so it’ll give followup hope for next week.

  8. tuan

    January has been BAD in Utah the last 3-4 years. Up until the last storm, PC was kinda brutal. I dont go there much for the terrain, so it doesnt affect me that much since I am always in the park.

    The total snowfall numbers for this year might not look too bad because we have had some really nice storms that have over-produced, but overall, I have to say so far this year has been a slight disappointment. We get a few good days in before a prolonged period of dryness. From the looks of Evan’s recent post, this cycle of a good storm then dryness doesnt look to be letting up…..

  9. Darren.

    To Aaron, I have been taking trips to UT during February and March for the last 20 years and have had consistent good snow every time. Storms seem to ramp up in a cycle like pattern as the winter sets up into early spring. Some of my best powder days were up at Atla/Bird in late March. Book it!

  10. Sam

    We pick a week every year and have always picked either February or March. So I few years experience with Utah snow one week at a time. Totally ignoring all the statistics I learn (selection with return versus selection without return) each year I do an analysis to try to determine the best possible week for storms based off historical values. Gotta do something right?

    Here is my synopsis:

    March: Locals say march is better than February. All of them say this. Why? March is warming, and has bigger storms. When you hit that first chair it’s closer to 30 than 10 degrees F. And if you can pick to call in sick to work for an epic day, this is the perfect month for you. However, 1 day after the big storm, the Mt’s are tracked out, and the snow becomes slushy in the afternoon warmth. Sure people will says there are always stashes and sure they are, but it’s not the same as a the entire Mt being a pow cache. Overnight freezes the snow back up and can get a little icy if you like to do first chair on non pow days like we do since we have a finite amount of time.

    The pow days are fantastic, the other days are meh. perfect for local who can pick which day to Board or ski, not so great for out-of-towners who have a few days to gamble on the goods.

    February: More frequent storms, not as many huge pow days. You’ll tend to have much colder temps throughout the day, a lot less afternoon slush (I think 2 years ago it was like 48 in Park City in February when I was there) on non pow day. You can get frequent days with refills (1 – 4 inches) and a day or so with 8 – 12 inches if your lucky, but you don’t seem to get 2 ft storms either. Seems like any week in February might get the same accumulation as any week in march (talking averages) but March gets that volume in 1 or 2 days, where as February might get it in 3 or 4 days.

    March – Much better upside (bigger pow days) but a gamble: Almost always 1 amazing day.
    February a lot less upside but much more consistent. Almost always 3 great days.

    Not purely scientific, don’t have that much time, but just look at Alta last year:

    19 out of 28 days with some snow (68% of days)
    Biggest day 14 inches 2/8/14
    days over 5 inches – 10
    Days over 10 inches – 2

    18 out of 31 days with some snow (58%) [That includes 2 days with “trace” amounts]
    Biggest day 13 inches 3/30/14
    Days over 5 inches – 8
    Days over 10 inches – 2

  11. Evan

    A question for the locals: if I’m out there next week and the flakes don’t fall, what are your opinions on powder cats or heliskiing? Is the snow still fresh and fluffy if it’s been a week since the last snowfall, or is this something only worth the cost shortly after a storm? Need to get my fix and knowing there’s another way to get the pow pow would ease my mind.

  12. Ed Hocoulli

    18z NAM is just a hair wetter for Friday night. It’s nothing more than 2″ but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

  13. Aaron

    Thanks Darren! Oh yeah already booked, think I’ll just stay in SLC in a regular hotel this time, any recommendations on ski shops with good deals on boots during that time?

  14. Shawn

    Aaron just don’t get hopes too high, I’ve been to Utah about 10 times in last 15 years. 7 in late jan ( 6/7 produced freshies) and 1 time in feb. (Good snow but no new) and twice in march (warm, no fresh snow). Last time was 2 years ago over st Patricks and it was aweful( inversions, 50 plus degrees on mtn). Also great spring skiing often is predicated with good early snow for snowpack. With global warming it’s a crapshoot anytime but I’ve had great success in Jan. I’ll be there Friday so here’s to another overachiever this weekend:)

  15. reed

    love the titles of each of your forecasts. if its snowed in the last week or so, you can always find powder in the bc … you just gotta get to it.

  16. Brad K

    For all the out-of-towers wondering when the best dates for a trip are, I have a business trip (leaving Utah) Feb 12-18 so I can gaurentee that it will dump then.

  17. Tim Bowers

    checking the overnight model runs; the Canadian GEMS and NAM are drier (booo!), the GFS is slightly wetter (yay?) and the Navy GEM model is the maverick (huh?). Friday night is not looking too good with 2″ at most…probably a dusting to 1″ most likely. Then late Sunday night into Monday, don’t expect much either. However, this Maverick model is thinking of holding off a surface high from spreading down from Canada and that a low will develop to the southwest Tuesday night, pull in moisture and overspread the region with light rain and snow for the following 2+ days. The Wasatch would be on the northern edge of this event as it deepens the upper levels and travels every so slowly east. This scenario was first forecasted in the 12z model run yesterday, albeit further north and MUCH more favorable for freshies for the northern Utah resorts but since then it has gone more south (00z run) with the 06z run now coming in and indicating to skip this idea nearly altogether. The 06/18z runs only go out to 144 hours while the 00/12z runs go through 180 hours so I cannot verify. But, from looking at the 144hr maps vs 150 hours on the 00z run, the trough the 00z and 12z runs created is not so defined now so that renegade solution might not have any legs left.

    grasping at straws.

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