A few snow showers around this morning, mainly in the northern Wasatch. We will clear up later today and for most of Saturday. Next storm moves in Saturday night into Sunday morning with modest accumulations. Sunday should be a good day. BIG storm looks more likely for early next week.
Yesterday was amazing. I took a gamble and went to Sundance on the hope that their reported 17″ was legit. I was doubtful, having looked at a neighboring snotel site and considering the pattern we had overnight wasn’t overly favorable for that area. I thought it was exaggerated. In fact, I thought it was exaggerated all the way until I got on the Arrowhead chair to head to the top of the mountain. Then, it became clear that it was a true snow report — at least on that upper portion of the mountain — and it was glorious. Bluebird conditions, not many people there, and 17″ of fluff on every turn. Honestly, I can’t figure out the nano-climate that produced that much snow in such a localized spot. But honestly, I don’t really care either, I’m just glad I was there to enjoy it. That makes 3 day since Monday that I’ve skied over-the-head powder. Not too shabby! 🙂
To the forecast…
A weak front is bringing very light snow, mainly to the mountains north of SLC this morning. This should clear out quickly. Here is a look at some snow falling up at Snowbasin:
Snow stake is measuring 6″, but when you put that in motion, you can see that it is mostly windfilled snow from overnight.
Still… that means there will be some nice wind-deposited turns out there today.
We will be in a break for most of Friday and Saturday, then the next storm pushes in for Saturday night into Sunday. This storm is fast-moving and not too strong, but it should bring several hours of moderate to heavy snow to the mountains. Here is the total accumulations according to the NAM-WRF composite:
Those light blues are mostly 2-5″ of snow, the dark blues and purples are 5-10″ of snow. I’m going to say this will be a 3-6″ for most mountains with 5-10″ for the Cottonwoods. Sunday should be a good day to ski/ride.
After a short break late Sunday, the big boy starts to push in on Sunday night into Monday. This storm will feature a strong jet stream and atmospheric river that will be aimed right at northern Utah. Right now it looks to start Monday with a peak on Tuesday before finally exiting on Wednesday. This means a prolonged period of heavy snow for the mountains is looking likely. Because the jet stream will be virtually on top of us, it also means very strong winds. Often, with this much moisture, we see warmer air from the ocean work into the region. The freezing level and snow levels are the same due to the moist air. That means snow levels rise. Rain in the lower valleys will be the result. I do not see this as being a super high snow level event however. Right now I’m thinking around 6,500 feet, perhaps rising as high as 7,000 feet. We’ve had AR events in the past where the snow level went well above 8k feet, so I’ll take 7k feet.
Here is a look at the truly astonishing QPF values for the Upper Cottonwoods:
Even if we assume this is overdone by 30%, that’s still a median of >4″ of liquid.
Right now we have a lot of cold, fluffy snow on bottom. When you add higher density snow on top, it’s a recipe for extreme avalanche danger. When you add in the winds, it means that this storm, while very strong and beneficial to our snowpack, might not be the best for skiing purposes. We may find its better to just let it do its thing on Monday-Wednesday, then enjoy a much healthier base when it’s over.
As of right now, models do indicate that there is a good chance for another storm moving in around Christmas Day. More active weather! This is reflected in the current CPC 6-10 day forecast:
Suddenly, nobody’s complaining that it feels just like last year…