We are ALL in this together…

Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 9:58 am

Friday AM update: 

Today (Friday) and Saturday will be extremely warm across Utah with temps approaching record levels.  A very subtle, dry cool front will bring temps down a touch on Sunday.  Additional systems will be pushing into the PNW and British Columbia next week.  It looks like later in the work week one trough could drop energy far enough south to bring us even cooler temps and some showers.

The general trend is for the ridge to build somewhere in the Eastern Pacific in early April rather than right on top of us.   Depending on exactly where this ridge axis sets up, we could fall into a more active pattern with storms dropping in from the northwest after Easter.  The PNA index is forecasted to go negative around April 1 and the MJO is now moving into more favorable phases.  Ordinarily this would support a pattern change, however, this winter has been far from ordinary so my confidence is not high just yet… We’ll keep watching…WSF


The storm earlier this week, while softening things up for us a bit, did little to help the snowpack.  Here is Snowbird snotel:


This shows our current year (dark blue line), the previous three years (green, light blue, red lines), and the median (purple line).   As we all know, we are well below the median.  63% of the median at Snowbird, to be exact.   We are also now substantially below the previous 3 years.  During a 10-day stretch second half of December, we saw approx. 10″ of liquid added to our snowpack.  This brought us to 130% of median at New Years — an auspicious start.  That ten day stretch turned out to be a season-saving storm cycle, because since then, we’ve seen only 5″ of liquid added to the snowpack over nearly 3 months!  Truly remarkable 2015 so far….

For Park City, the snowpack in Thaynes Canyon looks like this currently:


Well below the last three years and only 61% of median.  You can see that the mid-March warmth started to melt the snowpack a bit too before the recent storm boosted it back up a touch.  I’d expect the SWE numbers to drop again over the next few days with more warmth forecasted.

Ben Lomond Peak, up near Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, is really struggling:


BLP only has 38% of median SWE and only about a third of what it had this time last year.  You can also see how detrimental the warm Wx last week was to the snowpack.  This week’s storm only helped a touch to recover the 5″ of liquid that was lost.

Finally, a look at Tony Grove Lake outside of Logan:


Tony Grove Lake has been our tiny ray of hope this season.   It is one of the only locations in the Wasatch that isn’t worse off than each of the last 3 seasons.  TGL is actually ahead of 2013 and about even with 2012.  Still below median however, sitting at 79%.    You can see they also lost some SWE but gained back almost 2.5″ of it in this week’s storm.

The poor 2015 has been felt throughout the Western CONUS… In fact, as it currently stands, only 2 basins in the entire western states have above median snowpack:



One basin in Western Wyoming and the Bear River basin on the Utah/Idaho border.  That’s it for the entire west.  Everybody else is below normal.  Even the “green” basins of Wyoming and Montana are somewhat deceiving as their snowpack is mostly contained to the high elevations.  Resorts like Jackson Hole are actually mostly devoid of snow on the lower mountain.

After all this bad news, the most amazing thing is where we currently stand in the Wasatch, specifically the Cottonwood Canyons, relative to other parts of the country.  According to OnTheSnow, Alta and Snowbird are currently in the Top 10 for deepest snow depth in the country.  If you measured just the snow depth at the base of the mountain, they’d probably be in the Top 5.   Alta’s base can also be verified using the Alta-Collins sensor which is currently reading 77″ of snow.  To be having our worst season ever, and still be that high on the list is amazing.

Let’s hope for a wet Spring and a different pattern next winter!



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9 thoughts on “We are ALL in this together…

  1. John

    You give us hope! And stats, thanks for never giving up. Weather guessing is an art form, we all appreciate your forecasts and the fact that you actually make turns. As a windsurfer this lean snowpack can seriously affect all the lakes big time, which will hopefully wake up a few water wasting souls this summer…

  2. Charley

    Thanks for the update. I’m up here in Logan, good to see TGL holding some decent snowpack. Beaver Mountain closes this week, but I guess the snow has been pretty alright throughout the season. Looks like I’ll have to get my sticks out for one more pass up the canyon.

  3. Chris

    I managed to make it out to Alta/Snowbird for that last weekend in February/beginning of March. Dumb luck regarding the fresh snow and great conditions but I was amazed at how deep the base was in such a “dry” year. If this is as bad as it gets in Utah, you guys have no idea how good that is. Hopefully things only can get better in the years to come.

  4. AZ

    We cancelled our PC trip but hope theres a huge dump in the forecast soon for all you living up there. Since sun and warm temps is all we got, we’ll spend it in Parker AZ on the river. Beer, boats and bikinis, hard to beat. See you guys in July. PC is just as beautiful then.

  5. ian Wilson

    Thank you for the great job you do. WSF is an excellent website. I’ll be checking it again regularly as my go to snow source.
    We must believe the storms and snowfall will be better next year. In the meantime, we all need to be water wise here in the west.
    Thank you again WSF,
    A SolCal Friend

  6. scotchipman

    We are lucky for sure in Utah to have the worst snow year on record but still being able to ski on what most people consider good conditions. I had some friends in from California that were at Snowbird Monday-Wednesday and they had a great time with no complaints, especially compared to what is available in California this year.

    One note, the Collins gauge at Alta is the gold standard in the Wasatch for a very accurate automated snow depth but it does start out at around +6″ in the fall before there is any snow on the ground so 77″ is really around 71″ which is just crazy for any day in March at Alta!

  7. Floyd Teter

    As you have wonderfully recorded on FB recently, it’s not the end…just a transition. Great season for “double dipping” – bikes and hiking for half a day, boarding and skiing for half a day.

    We’ll get ’em next year.

  8. Pete

    How much additional snowfall is needed before season end to prevent this year as the worst on record?

  9. TR

    Looking at the GFS it appears that Whistler is about to have a string of colder storms for days and days late next week.

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