Everything on Track

Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 8:04 am

Sunday Evening Update:

Spent the day at Snowbird.  It snowed all day up there, sometimes lightly, other times quite hard.  Turns got better and better throughout the day.  I’d guess 3-6″ of snow throughout the day.

Right now (5:30pm), we are in a bit of a lull.  Snow should re-develop later tonight and continue into the morning hours.  Then perhaps another break midday tomorrow before snow develops again Monday evening thru Tuesday morning.  Then perhaps another break Tuesday evening before snow picks up again Wednesday morning.

Still thinking 1-3 feet with perhaps more in the Upper Cottonwoods.  Lots of wind possible up high.  Dangerous avy conditions.  Be careful!




A small storm this morning is bringing light snow showers to the area.  Another wave tonight will bring additional snow before a big storm arrives Monday evening thru Wednesday with significant snow likely.  Another, weaker storm possible for Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.


No surprises this morning.  Our first system is pushing through right now, bringing snow showers to much of the Wasatch.  The forecast yesterday was for 3-6″. Yesterday evening I looked at models and was feeling less confident and made an update that we’d probably only see a couple inches of dust on crust.  Right now, snowbasin looks to have picked up 4″ up top already and still snowing:


A couple inches at the PowMow snow stake as well:


Snow showers should continue through the morning hours and taper off this afternoon.  That 3-6″ may still be possible for some locations.

Another wave pushes in tonight into the region, I’d expect another 3-6″ overnight for most mountains.  Winds will be picking up on Monday as the jet settles over the area in advance of the main push of moisture for Monday evening thru Wednesday.

This storm will start with rising snow levels Monday night and heavy snow above that line.  Snow levels should generally be around 6,500ft but could rise to 7,000 for a time.  Heavy snow continuing with very strong winds on Tuesday.  Tuesday night into Wednesday, we’ll see a cold front push through that will drop snow levels back down to valley floors.  This may mean the best time for powder will be Wednesday morning when there is fluff on top of the dense snow.  However, please be patient as I anticipate it will be awhile before ski patrol can get the mountains safe again so terrain may be slow to open.

Winter Storm Watch as well as an Avalanche Watch are up for the Wasatch range now.  NWS is going with 1-3 feet, same totals I highlighted yesterday.  I still think that’s a good estimate.  Cottonwoods could get a bit more, especially if snow ratios end up being a touch higher than anticipated.  Here is the NAM output for the upper Cottonwoods between now and Wednesday:



We will finally quiet down late on Wednesday.  Another storm will drop into the area on Thursday into Thursday night.  This system looks like it will take most of its energy to Southern Utah, however, snow is likely in the Wasatch as well.  At this point, I expect generally light accumulations.

A break next weekend with perhaps one last storm next Monday.  Then high pressure may take over for a bit.  Long range ensembles hinting at high pressure amplifying along the west coast, this could set the stage for an undercutting during the first two weeks of January, which would be a classic El Nino pattern.  We’ll see.

Snowpack should be in good shape after this week!



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  • Jim

    By undercutting do you mean lows trying to undercut the ridge of high pressure? Sounds a bit like last January no? Please say no.

    • Alexis Levy Kruel

      I was going to ask the same…

    • Yeah, that will be the crucial difference (hopefully) between last year and this year…we were okay snowpack-wise Christmas time last year

    • Kyle Cutler

      Heres and explaination of undercutting from a Nov 12 post last year…

      Hoping to road trip from Portland, OR Dec 28 to ride all week. Never been to Park City and looking for recommendations on where to ridefor a Park city first timer. Performing ritualistic snow dance and following this blog religiously.

      • Ben Herrick

        Thanks Kyle, I was wondering what this meant and I wasn’t reading this until mid year last year.

      • Chad Niel


  • Dave Raue

    Well, well, well. I’m retiring to SLC and move in a couple weeks. Sounds like there will be a lot to look forward to!

  • PC Telemark

    Snowing really hard in PC right now!

  • Chad Niel

    Sounds like Wednesday despite the delayed openings will be the day to use my last vacation day. Thanks again for helping me plan!

  • Chad Niel

    Snowbird reporting inches? Nope. Just an unexpected epic pow day

  • Seth Horowitz

    I am visiting the bay area this week. It has been pouring rain hard all night 8 hours plus…I hope this “atmospheric river” flows straight to Utah. I will miss the skiing this week but looking forward to a bigger base on my return. Enjoy!