Friday Powder likely

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 7:25 am


A weak wave moved through last night and brought some snow to areas in far northern Utah.  More chances for occasional snow showers today and tomorrow as additional waves move through.  Stronger system still likely for Thursday night into Friday.


Last night, a wave moved through the area.  It was fast moving, lacked dynamics, but had plenty of moisture, so it looked impressive if you happened to check the radar imagery last night.  The big winner was Snowbasin with 4″ of snowfall.  Powder Mountain reporting 2″.  Everybody else in northern Utah reporting trace-1″.  A couple additional waves will be possible later today and tomorrow.  These look weak, but who knows, we could squeeze an inch or two out of them.

The next system of note will drop into the region on Thursday and push a cold front through the area Thursday night.  The cold front is well defined and strong, but it will move through the area quickly from north to south, which will limit totals.  The core of this system also looks like it will stay to our west.  Earlier this week, I spoke about my paranoia that this pattern would over-amplify and cause the systems to drop down along the coast rather than progressing inland.  It looks like that is a likely scenario now with this first system.  This will keep the best snow over the Sierra Nevada without much progression inland.  However, I still think the totals I mentioned yesterday are still a good estimate.  4-8″ for the Wasatch with 6-12″ possible in the Cottonwoods, most of which will fall on Thursday night.  Friday should be a fun little powder day.

In general, we look dry and cool for late Friday thru Saturday.  The next system pushes in late Sunday into Monday.  This storm is also showing signs of “over-amplifying” and keeping the best moisture west of us.  Again, at least modest accumulations look likely.  Monday could be a good powder day as well.

Models have again fallen out of agreement for later next week with the GFS bringing in another system and the EC giving us a few days break.  We’ll worry about that later.

To sum up, we’ve got a couple cold systems that will push through the area.  Right now the amounts don’t look overly significant but two modest storms is better than zero storms.



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  • Matthew Crain

    We have a trip planned to PC January 2-8. Unfortunately looking more and more likely we’ll need to cancel, so disappointing. Maybe next year.

    • Why cancel…?

      • dhwilkerson

        I think when you consider both the monetary and opportunity costs of a family trip from out-of-state to PC and the possibility of limited terrain being open, the reasons to cancel become a bit more clear.

        • Yeah…. limited terrain now, perhaps. A very active storm pattern ahead with cold temperatures for additional man-made snow. By Jan 2, I’d be very surprised if most, if not all of the mountain was open.

          • Matthew Crain

            Very surprised you would say that by Jan 2 most of the mountain will probably be open, but that’s encouraging! We certainly will not cancel yet, just considering, dhwilkerson hit it right on the nose for the reasons for canceling, but if the storm cycle really picks up throughout the rest of December, we will keep trip as planned. It just appears every storm is not panning out, and I had a hard time seeing how most of their terrain will have enough snow to open in just a mere 3+ weeks.

          • Peter Donner

            Hey Matthew, I don’t want to steal Evan’s thunder, but take a look at the NAEFS ensemble for Park City base, for the next week


            The mean puts down 15 inches of snow by December 15.

            Evan will tell you the voodoo in the NAEFS ensemble hasn’t quite been worked out, and I’ve been bugging our other Utah snow seer and revelator, Jim Steenburgh, about why the GFS trends high on Wasatch precip. Jim’s talked to the GFS people but they shrugg him off–evidently they think globally but aren’t interested in the Wasatch. Wish there were more people uninterested in the Wasatch, but I digress.

            Last year we had a Christmas miracle storm that made the skiing acceptably pleasant if not epic.

            Don’t count the Wasatch out just yet

          • Peter,

            That was a great comment! You clearly know me so well. 😉

            Now if we really want to talk voodoo…

          • Doug Conway

            Agreed. Coverage, snowmaking and cold temps thus far has been keeping us in PC very pleased with conditions considering what little snow we’ve gotten.

            Hopefully this weekend produces and we get a great start to the busy season!

            Any day while making turns still beats the summer! #prayforsnow

          • Name

            Having been on top of Jupiter peak a few days ago it is hard to imagine the whole mtn not being open Jan 2. It won’t take too much more to open things up.

          • Matthew Crain

            Thanks for the comment, that’s encouraging! Definitely want to be able to ski jupiter and 9990 when we are there!

    • Ran

      If you planned your trip around PC rather than the cottonwoods then your main focus is likely not powder… Coverage at PC is great right now, far better than last year. There is a ton of terrain open already. If you are counting on knee deep+ pow turns then you are always rolling the dice, impossible to guarantee that anywhere… But if you enjoy long groomers and terrain parks then Park City is prime right now and will certainly continue to get better through the new year.

      • Right. Conditions at PC are actually pretty good right now with an active and cold pattern ahead. Seems silly to consider cancelling.

        • Matthew Crain

          I like your optimism! If you really think most of the mountain will be open by then, we certainly won’t cancel now. Only a few runs are open at PC right now. Our major concern was not having most of the mountain open and spending so much money to head out there.

  • pmcell

    Arghh, typical. This system looked very promising just two days ago and just when I got stoked everything is backing off. Will be skiing Thursday-Sunday and looking forward to just getting on the mountain (sea-level dweller here) but some powder and more terrain would have been really nice. Fingers crossed a storm pattern truly sets in for my return in early January!

    • Yeah, we’re probably not going to get the huge amounts a few model runs had indicated, but still… We’ll get some decent and much-needed snowfall over the next 7 days, with a possibility for more snow beyond that. Can’t complain too much!

      • pmcell

        Rubbing my hands together today for a trend towards more precipitation in the models. Living in Louisiana I know all about the twists and turns when it comes to models and tropical systems so you gotta roll with the punches! The first trip I can make of the winter is usually a “get your sea-legs back” trip so I’ll be satisfied making laps up at Alta, Snowbird and PC.

        FYI: 12z NAM is looking nice with .75″-1.00″ over the wasatch just through Friday evening :).

        • 🙂 yep, NAM looks good… but trends this season have been for the NAM to dry up as we get closer to the event. Let’s hope not…

  • Gretchen

    Dear WSF, We are a family of 5 in Charleston, SC arriving in Park City on Dec. 19th – 26th and we are LOVING your thorough weather reports!! The bar is set pretty low for us southerners when it comes to snow. ANY snow fall will make us giddy!! My husband & I are native northerners growing up skiing in Vermont where ice ruled the day. This is a “Bucket List Trip” for our kiddos ages 15, 13, & 11. They’ve never seen the Wasatch area and I cannot wait to see the reaction on their faces. I sincerely appreciate the detail and humor you weave into your writing and LOVED the story about your birthday!! Happy Belated!! Just wanted to let you know you have fans in SC where we take our college football as serious as you take your powder!! On that note… GO CLEMSON – BEAT OKLAHOMA!! 🙂 Cheers!

    • Stone McDaniel

      I remember when I was that age and was told we would be moving to Utah. I was so excited to see the mountains. Growing up in Arkansas, we got just as excited for snow! They will LOVE the trip out here. It’s an amazing place to live or visit. I know that you mentioned that you’re staying in Park City. BUT, I’m thinking that with the small amount of snow we’ve gotten, you might want to go to Brighton, Solitude, or maybe Alta if you’re looking for some nicer quality snow and less people. Plus with the snow not being skied out as bad it won’t be as icey for the kids. 🙂 Just check out one of the higher elevation resorts. Park City’s not doin so well when it comes to their snow totals. Plus it’s always reaaaaally packed this time of year. I would highly recommend Brighton. Especially with these storms tracking SE from the NW. When the storms come from the west/north west, the Cottonwood resorts get the best of the snow most of the time. Just my $0.02. Anyways, safe travels and have a happy Holiday, and hope you guys enjoy your time in Utah!

      • Gretchen

        Thanks so much Stone! I sincerely appreciate the $0.02!! We were planning on skiing Snowbird, but will def check into Brighton. Ideally, we’d love to relax on Christmas am, avoid the hour drive, and ski PC, but we’ll play the conditions by ear. Cannot WAIT to see the freshies on the streets of Park City at Christmas time!! 🙂

  • Steve Noufer

    Some is better than nothing, but after the great looking forecasts it is a bit disappointing. As usual WSF, your hunch was correct.

  • Faceplant

    Grrrrrr. Seems like the storms drop to our west then intensify again over Colorado. I like donuts, just not this kind.

  • PortMay

    So bad winter?

  • Bill Hunt

    Hey thanks for the great forecasts! Just a little commentary on Snowbasin’s big 4″ :-). While there were traces of fresh snow on the Snowbasin road (~6100′) this morning, and probably 4″ at the top of the resort, this storm must have started as rain up to ~7500-7600′, judging from the stout rain crusts below the bottom of Middle Bowl chair this morning. Shades of last February… oh well! Hopefully those crusts will get buried ASAP, with the incoming storm Thursday night.

  • RF

    Fingers crossed for this weekend’s system! I’m flying to SLC on Thursday to get my first turns of the year.. it has been unusually warm on the east coast, so no ability to make snow at the hills in PA