The Force Awakens

Saturday, December 19, 2015 at 8:16 am

7:30pm Update:

Tonight’s weak system is looking even weaker to my eyes.  HRRR guidance shows it splitting and the moisture with the front looks meager.  I think we’ll be lucky to get anything more than a couple inches tomorrow morning.  Hopefully I’m wrong and we get surprised!



A fast-moving, weak storm will move through Sunday morning, bringing light accumulations.  Another wave of energy Sunday night will bring additional accumulations.  A very moist jet with settle over the region late Monday thru early Wednesday with heavy mountain snow and high winds.


Storm 1 –  Late Saturday night into Sunday morning:

This system is fast-moving and not overly impressive.  I think the quick movement will limit our totals.  I think 3-6″ for most mountains.  Perhaps a chance for a bit more in the Cottonwoods if things go well for us.   Snow levels will be down to valley floors.

Storm 2 – Sunday night:

A wave of energy moves into far northern Utah.  Another 3-6″ is possible for mountains, mainly north of SLC (Snowbasin, PowMow, Beaver).  Cold temps should keeps snow levels below 5,000 feet.

Storm 3 –  late Monday thru early Wednesday:

This is the strong storm that has a very strong jet associated with it.  An atmospheric river event.  Heavy precipitation likely at times with snow levels rising.  Still think they will max out at 7,000 feet or less, which would keep precip type as snow for most resorts.  However, this is a much warmer storm than we’ve been seeing, so snow densities will be high.  Winds will also be very high, especially on the ridge lines.  Avalanche danger will be likely be extreme, please consult the UAC before venturing into the backcountry.  I’d recommend staying out of the backcountry for this storm.

Overall, snowfall totals will likely be in the 1-3 feet range with this third storm, mostly above 7,500 ft.  There is a possibility for more than that in the Cottonwoods.

Storm 4 – Christmas eve into Christmas Day:

Latest trends have been to drop this system south of the region with limited impacts.  If this storm trends more progressive again, we could see additional accumulations.


Total accumulations over the next 5 days will be high.  Here is a look at probabilities of snow amounts:

These maps are of northern Utah (note the Great Salt Lake),  the far right image shows a large spine of the Wasatch is almost guaranteed to receive 2+ feet of snow.   Would not be surprised for the Cottonwoods to see 4 feet of snow from now until Wednesday evening.

As mentioned yesterday, due to the winds and high density snow, it might not be the best skiing, but it will go a long way to helping us build a snowpack.


P.S.  Sorry for the cliche title, I couldn’t think of anything else and it’s somewhat apt.

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20 thoughts on “The Force Awakens

  1. Matthew Crain

    When you say snow levels will max out around 7,000 feet, why do you say snow accumulations will be above 7,500 feet?

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast

      Snow accumulations of 1-3 feet will be above that level. There will be accumulations down to 7,000 feet, and likely lower as snow levels should come back down late on Tuesday, just not quite the volume.

      1. Scot Chipman

        I disagree, my years as a forecaster and weather message board trolling nerdburger tell me that we will get between 11 inches and 37 inches and accumulations down to 6,999 feet. Nice try WSF.

  2. Justin Wehner

    Yeah, sheesh, I’m not reading WSF anymore with all these hackneyed post titles. Terrible, terrible cliches, sir. For shame.

  3. Dave Rosenthal

    Question for you utah ski experts: Arriving park city Sunday afternoon. I’m a blue groomer skier and son has never skied,but is an athlete and skater so he’ll pick up quick. Since there is possibility of strong winds Mon to Wednesday, is there any one resort that is best shielded from high winds for the terrain mentioned above.

    1. PC Telemark

      There’s not really one resort, but areas within resorts will be more shielded than others. For example. at PCMR, the bonanza lift is usually more wind susceptible because it’s on the ridge line. The Thaynes/Motherlode area (when it opens) is less wind-prone because it’s more shielded. The canyons is also pretty wind prone because it has a bunch of terrain between mountains, but the canyons as a whole isn’t very beginner friendly.
      I wouldn’t worry too much about the wind though. It may be bad when you’re on a lift, but typically once you’re skiing it’s not a big deal.

        1. Harrison Freni

          Deer Valley’s lower area is pretty good for beginners, way less wind susceptible too. Also their ski school is 10/10

    2. Chad Niel

      I recommend brighton, I think its the best place to learn and it’s in the cottonwoods so better snow than pc

  4. Steve Noufer

    WSF, any thoughts on how PC will fare in Monday-Wednesday storm? Assuming it doesn’t get downgraded or go away like the others. I know it’s a westerly storm as opposed to NW. How does PC usually do in that kind of flow?

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