100% Chance of Goggle tans, Beers, and BBQ

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 7:16 am

Friday update:

Bad news.  Models have been dropping like flies over the past 24 hours with regard to bringing us storms late next week.  Right now it looks like the ridge over the intermountain west will remain stronger than earlier anticipated and deflect storms north of the area.  We could get brushed with some energy but I have low confidence in that right now.  To be honest, right now the pattern does not look good for us for the next two weeks and perhaps longer.  Miracle March is looking less likely.  The Winter of our Discontent continues…



Warm and dry is the story for the next week with Spring conditions.  A chance for storms late next week although details are vague at this point.


Really nothing to talk about…  We will continue to get warmer through the weekend with Spring conditions developing.  It’s going to feel like May on the mountain.  Late next week we should get a cool down and most models have some sort of storm energy reaching the area although they disagree on timing/strength.  At this point it doesn’t look overly impressive to my eyes, but there’s plenty of time for that to change… We’ll just keep watching and see how it evolves…


For much of February I was touting the potential for a pattern change for the last week of the month.  That pattern change came, hung around for about 12 days, and now has left with the introduction of another pattern change — this time reverting back to high pressure.  Unfortunately for the Wasatch, it wasn’t until this very last storm that we were favored.  Storms were rolling through the west, but most of the strong energy focused farther south on Southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Colorado.

Here is a look at the numbers…


Webster Flat (near Brian Head) saw incredible improvements in snowpack with this last storm (blue line), essentially doubling their snowpack and leaving last year (green line) in the dust.  Unfortunately, even with these impressive gains, they still remain just below the median (purple line).

Snowbird, and most other Wasatch sites, saw only modest gains:


Snowbird is only at 76% of the median and is 2-3 inches of liquid behind last year.  This is the same story at most Wasatch locations.

Before the pattern change, this was the state of snowpack across the West on Feb 20:


Notice the poor numbers in Southern Utah as well as the Wasatch and Uintas.

Now here is the same map from yesterday:


Huge gains were made in Southern Utah to bring the region to near normal!  Big gains also for the earlier mentioned areas like Arizona (where Arizona Snow Bowl outside Flagstaff got 81″ of snow in 9 days), New Mexico, and Southern Colorado.  The Wasatch saw numbers generally improve a few percentage points, but overall we did little more than hold serve during the pattern change, which is a bit disappointing because it was a window to make up real ground and we just couldn’t quite get the storms to deliver the way we needed them.  Now, as mentioned in the forecast above, we are facing another dry/warm spell, so I expect the numbers to start falling again over the next week.

Understandably, I get this question a lot,  “I’m planning a trip for (insert time frame here) and I’m worried there will be no snow at (insert place here), should I cancel my trip?”   If that is something you wanted to ask, I’ll refer you to the Snowbird graph above.  Despite being at 76% of the median, we still have the average snowpack of the second week of February and our snowpack normally keeps increasing until late April.  In short, there’s still a lot of snow up there, especially in the Cottonwoods.  Hopefully that puts your mind at ease.


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  • ak8012

    Took one for the team. Chased the weekend/week in wolf creek and crested butte. What a wonderful welcome home.

  • Anna

    As a visitor from the East Coast (MA specifically), I would agree 100% with what WSF is saying about snowpack concerns for out of state skiers/riders. I arrived here at the end of Feb for what I am assuming was probably the worst conditions resulting from the high pressure ridge that had held over the area for the last month. The worst snow in Utah is still better than the average snow (i.e. ice and crud) out East. Not to mention the awesome terrain and the elevation that you can only find on a real mountain range like the Wasatch. You’ll have a good time regardless.

    Personally, I’m on my 3rd week out here trying to hit every ski resort in Utah before I leave on Monday. I’ve snowboarded on just about everything while I’ve been here (including 3 solid powder days) and I’ve had an absolute blast.

    • Pretty cool. It would be interesting to hear what you think of each resort! Sounds like you’ve had a great trip. Thanks for the comments!

    • Robert

      Absolutely Anna! A group of us from NC spent a week at Park City in mid-late February. We skied PC, Canyons and Snowbird and I had the time of my life!!! I had gotten depressed reading the reports for the previous month before our trip but was pleasantly surprised when we got there. “Terrible” Utah snow is still superior to NC snow and the terrain and runs were unbelievable!!! I don’t think I can ever go back to the 5000 ft skating rinks in western NC, haha. I’ll definitely be back!

    • Shredmdp

      Way to stay positive. Personally, I like BBQ weather!

  • jim

    Latest model runs are all backing off what they showed yesterday. Looks like warm temps and little snow in the long range. Let’s hope the models are just having an off day.

    • Will it ever snow again in Tahoe?

      The Canadian Model looks very good. It shows about 12-15 inches for Northern Utah and about 20+ inches for Brian Head. The US model was similar a few days ago, but it now shows the storm breaking up as it comes on shore, leaving Utah with scraps that could produce 3-6 inches in favored locations. I hope the Canadian model knows something the US model doesn’t.

  • Darren

    I agree 100% with Anna. I am from the east coast but have a home in PC where we spend 3 weeks each winter. We spent president’s week skiing the Cottonwoods and Canyons and were expecting horrible conditions. I was amazed at how well the snowpack held and how especially at higher elevation on north facing terrain, the snow was quite good. Despite no fresh snow and “icy” conditions, the weather was superb and we had a fantastic time – far better than freezing our butts off in VT!
    For anyone visiting from out of state who is used to skiing elsewhere, even with less than an average snowpack, warm temps and persistent dry/high pressure, there is no substitution for the terrain, the accessibility, the ability to ski multiple world class resorts and the beautiful weather. Even with the snow New England has received this winter, there is no comparison to the big mountain experience you will get in Utah. DO NOT CANCEL!!

  • R.C.

    I am back to Brightom mid March

  • Mark

    At least the pattern has been mostly consistent all season with 1 or 2 good storms a month. Which means now that we’ve received the March delivery we can focus on spring biking/hiking/running/golfing/etc. the rest of the month while we wait for April’s installment. At this point I doubt 300 inches is possible at Solitude, but maybe if we can get one more storm late this month and another in early April we can hit 250?

  • jim

    I wouldn’t lose all hope for March. The Euro long range out this morning still has 2.5-3 inches of precip (at least 25 inches of snow) for the Wasatch by April 1st, granted most of it is in the last 10 days of the month (which is when I will be there so I hope it holds). I concur Evan, the model reversal since yesterday has been disheartening. As you always say don’t look at each model run too seriously or look too far past 7 days. Things can change.

    • I’m definitely not losing hope for March, but in order for it to be a true “Miracle March” we would need for it to be active for most of the month. That looks unlikely to happen. We could definitely get hit hard during the second half of the month and end up with average snowfall for the month. Powder will return at some point.

      • jim

        That’s what I want to hear!

  • TJ

    Alrighty Evan, despite your attempt to keep cool heads about the rest of March, I pulled the trigger on tickets for the last week of March. This is me playing for the Powerball only, it’s a Miracle end-of-March or bust!

  • Steve

    12Z GFS shows some hope a ways out.. I do know it’s just one run. But grasping at straws at this point.

    • Will it ever snow again in Tahoe?

      Check out the wild differences between the Canadian model and the GFS. I sure like the Canadian picture better than the GFS picture.

      • jim

        The Canadian is the only model that seems to share that sentiment. I can’t believe how bad the models have gone in the past two days. Things were looking good for the rest of the month then ..poof…it’s all gone. Let’s hope the models come around over the weekend.