“Real” Winter to arrive?

Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 7:56 am


Northern Utah will continue to be clipped by energy that is passing to our north.  Clouds and occasional light snow showers are possible in the mountains.  The storm track finally drops into the region late this week with significant snowfall possible.


Yesterday, I added another year of life to my resume.  My wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday, as she does every year.  Completely serious, I said to her, “I just want snow. Lots of snow.”  She shook her head and made me a delicious cheesecake instead.  However, I’m starting to think she might actually have some sway in the snowfall dept as well…. Models are looking mighty delicious this morning (even more so than the cheesecake).  So if this pattern I’m about to discuss works out, I think credit goes to my wife.

The upcoming 5 days is going to be pretty uneventful as the storm track continues to hit areas far to our north.  We’ll be clipped by weak energy in Northern Utah with clouds, a few mountain snow showers at times, and perhaps some breezy weather as well.  The good news is that it should keep the valleys from getting too inverted.

Things start to change on Thursday as a strong trough sags into the region as the pattern becomes less zonal and more amplified.  Thursday is December 10th.  If you remember, that is that date I earmarked last week as when it looked like the pattern would change.  Score one for the long-range ensembles!

Right now it looks like the best snow will start later in the day on Thursday and continue through much of Friday.  Plenty of decent moisture and cold air for substantial snowfall to be possible.  Friday and Saturday could both be good powder days!

The other piece of good news is that for once, this does not look to be a “one-and-done” storm with perhaps more significant snowfall possible early next week as another system drops into the western CONUS trough.

As for 10-day total snow, first lets look at the Canadian GEM:



You can see the “pinks” up the spine of Utah indicating good snowfall accumulations.  The GEM is low resolution and therefore does not resolve the terrain of the Wasatch (which is a steep and narrow mountain range) well.  I’d expect totals to be higher than the legend indicates.

Next, here’s the 10-day GFS:


Very impressive totals from the GFS, even for lower elevations.

I’m not able to post the ECMWF (Euro) model due to their sharing policies, but I can tell you that it is somewhere in between the GEM and GFS for total snowfall.

So all models agree on at least decent snowfall for the region with most models suggesting significant snowfall is a definite possibility.  For more on this potential, see the below GEFS ensemble forecast for snowfall:



You can see that most ensembles show snow starting late on Thursday with rather significant accumulation by late Friday.

Of course, it’s important to remember that we are still 5+ days away from the start of this event.  Yes, it does have potential, and I am communicating what is currently being projected, but as always, this is subject to change.  As mentioned earlier, this is a more amplified pattern which means that if it amplifies too much, the storms could drop to our west and then south a la the November systems. After the luck we’ve had so far this year (and last year), I’m keeping my emotions in check at this point.

Still, this isn’t just a one-and-done and models indicate more chances for snow could continue through the long-range.  I think even in a worst case scenario, we still get a healthy dose of winter in Utah.



If you haven’t already heard.  Uber has launched UberSKI right here in Utah.  It’s a great way to get to the mountain and avoid the hassle of traffic, weather, parking, etc   Also, a great way to get home after some après fun!  I’m a huge supporter and fan!  So much so that we have partnered with Uber to get the word out.  You can use promo code “WSFUBER” to get a free first ride.  You can see this code in our sidebar (bottom of page for mobile).

FREE first ride! Promo code:  WSFUBER

Give it a try! 

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  • Maryannfaithful

    Happy Birthday! May all your birthday dreams come true

    • Sunny D

      Happy birthday and thank you!

  • Melanie Marier

    Great news concerning the snow. Not so good concerning Uber. You’re saying that a vehicle that had no purpose of being on the road that day will be called to someone’s house, take the skiers and riders to the resort, come down empty (unnecessary trip) and go back up (empty) in the afternoon to pick up those same customers? We should be trying to avoid all unnecessary travel. Car pooling and UTA are still the best options for local skiers.

    • Hmmm… I agree about UTA, but the reality is that many don’t want to deal with the hassle of public transportation. Uber encourages ridesharing so it means less vehicles. Also, hopefully there will always be an uber vehicle in the neighborhood of the resorts so that unnecessary trips aren’t required. All vehicles are AWD, so when storms hit, there will be less vehicles struggling with slick roads. I understand the concerns, but I’m hoping the benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks.

  • smathews

    The National Weather Service has the storm holding off until Saturday going until Monday. It is two days later than your forecast. I am not being critical, how come the difference?

    • The 12z suite of models seems to be pointing toward a start of action a bit later (on Friday) and lasting into the weekend. Where are you seeing it holding off until Saturday?

  • bwilson

    Are you 100% absolutly possitive that we will have accumulating snow in the valleys over next weekend?

  • Steve “Gator” Wood

    Just got back fro the PC Can (Canyons). Nice reviews on local sponsor “Free The Powder” Gloves and Mittens, Several peeps on lift were wearing them and they all found them from WSF! Good job Evan. Going to check the out at http://www.freethepowder.com/

  • Chad Niel

    It’s bad luck to be superstitious, but fact remains last year every time my friend david, john michael, or I went out of town there was a storm. I was sitting in sunny tempe when we had the 40 inch plus monster.

    David is going home to Baltimore next weekend, leaving Thursday. Just sayin.

  • Michael Belt

    Need a little help. We live in Sandy from mid December through April, plan was to arrive SLC on the 15th. We take I-80, forecasts out 10 days don’t show much but the GFS map has more pink in WY than Utah. So what are your thoughts about travel through WY mid to late next week 9th 10th 11th, versus early the following week, 14th – 15th?

    • If you don’t mind a little wind, the 9th is your best bet for a good travel window. Or early on the 10th.

      • Michael Belt

        Sorry, I had some issues sending the email so it was incomplete. How bad will Wyoming be the 10th 11th, 12th?

  • John Dubock

    UTA sucks, its expensive for say a party of 3 kids round trip up LCC, doesn’t run frequently as in the past, and bottom line until it becomes as comfortable as anyone’s car, ridership will wane. I ride the bus to take a car off the road but reality is the average skier car is the choice as UTA packs buses like they are getting paid by the pound, There is no incentive to ride UTA, no frequent flyer discount. Now up LCC the new Internet stations seem to not drop a signal so its a start.

  • AudioHTIT

    A belated Happy Birthday! If your wife’s deserts can bring us a storm, Bake On!