Bonus Time… and a lot of potential for next week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 7:13 am


Light snow showers in areas this Wednesday morning.  A system will clip northern Utah tonight, bringing a period of accumulating snowfall to the northern mountains.  Fresh snow is likely for Thursday morning.  Another strong storm possible for early next week.


The Sunday night – Tuesday storm has finally wrapped up… for the most part.  As expected, it was a long-duration system with many complicated components.  The highest totals were seen around Brian Head in southern Utah where 40″ of snow fell!  Wow!  LCC was the winner for northern Utah (surprise!) with storm totals in the 28-32″ range.  BCC was generally around 20″ storm total.  Snowbasin and PowMow 13-16″.  Sundance 11″.  Top of PC ridge saw 8-12″.

Snow showers are still present in the region.  As evidenced by this webcam at snowbasin:


Looks like 2″ of fluff to help soften up turns this morning!  I am also seeing light dustings on the roads around PC with about an inch of snow on the PC snowstake cam.

Today is generally a break.  But the good news is that we’ve got a bonus round coming for tonight as a system clips northern Utah.  Additional snow happening so soon after a big storm is typical of Utah, but is something we haven’t much of in the last few years.  Our bonus round storm will bring snow to areas from Cottonwoods/PC north to the Idaho border tonight.  QPF for this storm is generally in the .25-.5″ range, which isn’t a huge amount.  But when you combine that with cold air and high snow ratios, it should accumulate rather quickly.  Based on that QPF, I’d guess snowfall totals will be in the 3-6″ range for Snowbasin, PowMow, and PC resorts with 4-8″ possible for the Cottonwoods by Thursday morning.

Here is the 12km NAM showing at least 6″ for the Upper Cottonwoods:

Thursday should definitely have some soft turns in the morning, although it might not be quite as deep as yesterday or Monday.

Storms generally pass to our north on Friday and Saturday, but there’s enough moisture in warm advection that we could see some high mountain snow at times.  Temps will be significantly warmer.

On Sunday, we see a weak system pass through with generally light accumulations, however it will drag a cold front through that will help cool our temperatures a bit.  Then on Monday and Tuesday.  All major models show a very moist stream flow coming from the northwest with embedded waves of energy.  It has the potential to produce a lot of mountain snowfall in the days leading up to Christmas.  This isn’t as cold as our last storm, so lower valleys (below 5,000 feet) could see more rain than snow.

Here is a taste… this morning’s 06z GFS thru Christmas Day:


Widespread areas of 2-3″ of liquid, with many areas of 4+”

The ensemble suite is generally latching onto the idea as well for Monday/Tuesday:

Obviously, you can see that there are a lot of different outcomes that are possible.  We are still 5+ days away so much of this is speculative.  The screaming message, however, is that active weather is likely to continue and could be significant.  We’ll be watching closely over the next few days.


Here is the current westwide snowpack map:


Southern Utah, not surprisingly, is doing well.  Northern Utah is still running behind the median, but we made big gains as we were mostly in the 50-60% range before this storm.

Here is a look at Snowbird’s snotel station:


You can see we are running just behind last year.  Last year had a very snowy holiday period that put totals at 131% of median on New Years Day.  This year, we might see a similar jump if the pattern previously mentioned verifies.   Let’s just hope this time we don’t then flatline like we did last year.

Here is Thaynes Canyon in Park City:


A similar story.  Running just about even with last year.

I’m going to pull up a quote of mine from November 3rd.  Many of you probably weren’t reading regularly then, but this is what it said:

October was the warmest in SLC history and exceptionally dry.  November is looking a bit more promising right now, but don’t be surprised if we are below average for snowfall yet again.   In December, hopefully we’ll start to see El Nino’s effects start to really take shape as more winter-like patterns develop.  If we can get to January 1 somewhere near normal snowpack, I’d consider that a huge victory.   After that, our odds of above average snowfall increase as we head into the first few months of 2016.

If you ask me, we are following that script exactly.  November was cool and somewhat unsettled, but still well below average.  Now, in December, we are really starting to see the tempo pick up with real winter storms moving into the area.  Based on what I see in the long range, I think we have a good chance to be at or above average by New Years.  Seasonal forecast models still suggesting elevated odds for above average precipitation for the Jan-Feb-Mar time frame.  I think we are in good shape.


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  • Alexis Levy Kruel

    Oh boy!

  • Marc Guido

    I’m waiting with baited breath. Then again, I usually smell like fish.

    • I can vouch for your scent. Sitting on a chairlift with you is like being in the Seattle fish market.

      Hope the post was worth the wait.

      • Marc Guido

        As always.

  • Ran

    2 comments (now 3) before the post has even dropped, the stoke is high!

  • Matthew Crain

    Man stoke is high

    • Matthew Crain

      Can it be Jan 3 already!?

  • Jim

    Am I reading the GFS total precipitation right? Looks like around 8 inches of liquid equivalent for LCC area …that would be 80+ inches of snow?

    • You are reading it right…. but… since the upgrade last year, it has a tendency to be a bit overdone… but even half of that would be great.

      • Jim

        You’re right the GFS does seem to overdo it. The forecast about 10 days ago for Whistler was ridiculous…95″ if I recall. They did get decent amounts but nowhere near that.

  • Bryce

    Lets get after it flying up on Friday. Going to be up there for a week with the family. Cannot wait. Crossing my finger for the storm next Monday. Would love to cure up this unmedicated powder flu

  • tybeee

    Top of Bear Trap Fork yesterday was balls deep!

  • get some

    Im going against the hype in hopes of being the big loser in predictions…. here goes:

    Before Christmas,

    Cottonwoods 8-12″
    PC 1-3″

    Feel free to vent 😉

  • Steve Noufer

    WSF, the Force is strong with you.

  • The big winner in northern Utah from the last storm was the Oquirrh mountains where 3.00″ of water was recorded at both Dry Fork and Rocky Basin Settlement! Little Cottonwood reported around 1.50″ water and 28-30″ snow from the last storm, 3.00″ water would be over 50″ snow if reported like the resorts where it is measured often.

  • Mike Smith

    Let’s all take a second to appreciate how freakin rad this site/forecast is…

    What do you think is the most likely scenario for PC next week?

  • Zac Thayn

    How are our chances of a white Christmas in the valleys looking like? It looks like there’s plenty of water, but the snow level may be an issue. Thanks!

  • Chad Niel

    Is there somewhere on this site where the Author’s name is? I feel like there has to be but I don’t see it.

    • Bryan Thompson

      The about page has it about 3 sentences in, it’s Evan Thayer.

      • Chad Niel

        Thanks! I knew it was probably obvious but I often struggle with the obvious lol

        • Bryan Thompson

          Haha ya sometimes things hide ride in plain site, if it wasn’t for already knowing his name I wouldn’t have found it that easily

  • keyejn

    Thank you! This site is always top notch!!

  • Keller Willhite

    Fingers crossed for a white christmas… chances seem pretty good. Monday at the bird was amazing!

  • altaskier

    By far the best forcast out there!
    Legs getting sore. Smiling muscles getting sore as well.

  • Steve Noufer

    Evan, what do you think about snow levels next week? NWS is calling for rain/snow in PC. For various reasons, I’m somewhat committed to sking PC, so wondering how wet I might be.

  • SJG

    I too had smiley cramps on Tuesday. Just need more terrain open!!!!!

  • Justin Wehner

    It is full-on nuking in Jeremy right now. Probably 4″ in the last hour? I was going to go for a night skate ski but, hell, there’s too much snow until the groomers hit it in the morning!

  • Carson


    Glad to see that things are looking promising for next week. I’m a college student and its been agonizing seeing all this snow and having to take finals instead of skiing. I wanted to say thanks for your forecasts and blog. Read it daily and my roommates and I rely heavily on you to get the latest information for weather and snow totals. I appreciate it a lot and hope to join everyone on the slopes next week once school is out!