Appetizer Before the Main Course?

Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 7:20 am


Windy today ahead of a cold front that will move in from north to south this evening.  A short period of heavy snowfall is likely across the Wasatch this evening before shifting to southern Utah overnight.  Modest powder turns on Friday with a few lingering snow showers.  A bigger storm possible for late Sunday thru Tuesday.


A weak wave moved thru last night.  More clouds than anything, although there were a few snowflakes seen on webcams, but not enough for any sort of accumulation.

Very windy today as a cold front approaches.  You can see the storm pushing in on this water vapor loop:


This storm system is bringing big snowfall totals to the Cascades and Sierra Nevada.  The core of the storm is less progressive than we’d like, which means that it will sag south more than progress east through the Great Basin.  This means we will be limited to mostly just the cold front and will not benefit from cold core instability behind the front.

This cold front is going to move through the area very quickly this evening, which will be a severe limiting factor in our snowfall potential.  Here is the HRRR model loop showing precip pushing in with the front this evening:


According to this, the front will move into the SLC area around 8-9pm tonight.

Like I mentioned earlier, the short duration and lack of instability and flow behind the front will be limiting factors in accumulations.  I think most mountains will be in the 3-6″ range with favored locations like the Cottonwoods perhaps in the 5-9″ range.  I’ve seen these type of systems go both ways, sometimes the front moves through very quickly and you get 3″ of snow really fast and then nothing…  Sometimes the front ends up stalling just a bit more than forecasted and you get 4-5 hours of heavy snow…  We’ll have to just wait and see what things look like tomorrow morning.  At the very least, everybody should have at least some soft powder added to their turns.

The big question today…  Is this just an appetizer for a much larger storm Sunday night into Monday?  Right now, virtually all models are showing that as a decent system.  With both Monday and Tuesday as potential powder days.  How decent of a system?  Well, right now, models generally project .75″-1.5″ of liquid, which with the cold temperatures that are expected, would yield 1-2 feet of snow.

But this raises another big question… Can we trust the models right now? We’ve seen storms look good 4-5 days out, then tank as we moved within 3 days all season.  I’m in a bit of a quandary — I don’t want to get your hopes up.  But at the same time, as a forecaste,r I have to let you know that a good storm is definitely possible.  Let’s just keep a calm, rational eye on this storm and hope for the best.  Don’t get your hopes up until Saturday when we are close enough for much higher confidence.

This storm would also have the potential to leave us in a very cold northwest flow for much of the middle of next week.  This is the type of pattern that can kick off lake effect and orographic showers without much help.  Additional accumulations possible…

Late next week the models completely diverge on whether or not we’ll have another storm…

No matter how you slice it, we have a cold and active pattern coming up that will go a long way in getting the mountains fully skiable for the holidays.


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20 thoughts on “Appetizer Before the Main Course?

        1. no more stories

          A sarcastically dismissive response to Evan’s compliment to himself being personal hardly seems nonsensical.

  1. Steve Noufer

    Nice job on providing a realistic assessment. Allows us to be hopeful but aware of the potential downsides. I’m still hopeful of course.

  2. Steve Noufer

    Thanks for your daily discussions. Will be donating today. And encourage others who rely on your reports to do the same.

  3. Justin Wehner

    At what point do we just give up on the models until it’s a day or two out? Forecast reliability this year (no dig at you, Evan, it’s pretty much the models’ fault) seems so low as to be almost useless.

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast

      Yeah. Models have actually been good at the overall pattern, but really bad with the details this year. These amplified patterns are always a stuggle, once the pattern becomes more zonal I think models will be much more reliable again.

    2. Scot Chipman

      The models do a good job with forecasting the large scale pattern and are always getting a little better. For over 5 days now the models have been forecasting a large trough moving into the Great Basin on Monday which is still forecasted to happen. The problem is in the small details which can make a BIG difference in the actual snowfall.

    1. Stone McDaniel

      I’m pretty positive that by the 25th there will be some good pow pow on the slopes. I feel it in my gut. There’s going to be a good series of storms. Especially if you’re going to be here into January. With 10 days to work with, and how the forecast is shaping up, you will be fine. IMO.

      1. Db

        Im feeling that too. Also, PC does great opening up runs and snowmaking to handle the crowds. Hoping the bird gets it too, plan on a few days there as well.

  4. Steve Noufer

    Any thoughts on the longer term? The models have been pretty consistent on showing chances for snow out to the end of the model run. At least the GFS. But, I’m certainly taking with a huge grain of salt.

  5. Seth Richardson

    I would take this with a grain of salt. Not to stomp on hopes and dreams of diehard powder hounds and snow bums. But PC area has been really sucky in terms of snow this year and last…. small storms that leave a few inches then 50 Degree weather for a week or 2 after leaves you with a nasty crust and bare areas across the hill where snow blowers aren’t hitting.

    Fingers crossed for sure, but don’t plan a ski vacay around this forecast thats for sure.

    1. Db

      After the last 6 years of going to PC over the holidays I believing the talk of deep powder all the time is far more rare than it seems from reading all the posts. No worries, we are used to blown snow on groomed runs during the holidays.

      1. Seth Richardson

        I encourage people to go north a bit where I come from. Ski areas like lost trail, white fish, and big sky get amazing snow. It’s not called lost trail powder mountain for nothing. Though last year was rough that far north as well due to warmer weather, guess its just a trend we need to ride out.

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