The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Thursday, December 24, 2015 at 6:43 am

Christmas Eve Update:

Everything on track for snow to develop tonight into Christmas morning.  Santa should be flying through some wintry conditions, but I assure you the sleigh is equipped to handle any type of weather.  As we’ve held on to the trends from this morning, I feel comfortable bumping up expected totals to 5-10″ with 7-14″ in the Cottonwoods by Friday afternoon.  Southern Utah mountains still likely to see 12-18″.   Merry Christmas!




A break today before our next system moves in tonight into Christmas morning. This storm will likely bring snow to most of Utah for Christmas Day!  Wind holds from yesterday means in-bounds powder will be available today with more tomorrow.  A drying trend is likely this weekend into next week.


Yesterday (Wednesday) morning, our cold front pushed through as expected. I was headed up to Solitude and the snowfall rates for about two hours were astonishing.  Such heavy snow!  Then, once the snowfall lightened up.  The winds kicked up.  They were far stronger than expected and led to many wind holds throughout Wasatch resorts.  Fortunately for me, Solitude didn’t have to put any lifts on wind hold while I was there and the turns were deep.  (It was my 9th powder day in the past two weeks)  The one good thing that came from the wind holds yesterday is that much of that powder remains untouched, so today should be a great day to get after it.

The four day totals from this storm cycle have been quite impressive (Note: These are totals reported by ski resorts):


Solitude/Brighton top the list with >5 FEET of snow.  Many other resorts topping out at over 4 FEET.  Many locations have added 4-6″ of liquid to the snowpack.  And it’s not over yet…..

I have some very good news for those of you looking to do powder skiing on Christmas Day, or those of you who just want a white Christmas.  Over the last few days, it looked like most of the energy from our Christmas eve/Christmas Day storm would head south.  Models have come around to a more progressive solution which brings a cold front through the region overnight tonight with snow showers continuing into the day tomorrow.  To illustrate this change in the models, check out the 06z NAM yesterday:


I added the red arrow to show the time period of Thursday night into Friday morning.  This is for the Upper Cottonwoods.  Essentially, minimal accumulation.   Now check out today’s 06z run of the NAM:


You can see that now that same period shows 13″ of new snow!  What a difference 24 hours can make.  This is such a new solution and it’s unusual for a short-range model like the NAM to have such drastic changes.  Therefore, I’m going to be a little more conservative and say that 4-8″ is likely for the mountains of Northern Utah with 6-12″ for the Cottonwoods.  But please note, that if this new solution is correct, totals could be higher.  I will make a quick update this evening to let you know if models have continued this trend for higher totals.   Southern Utah will also see good snowfall tomorrow with a foot or more possible at Brian Head.  Valleys of Northern Utah stand a good chance to wake up to new snow.  How festive!

Instability/orographic snow showers will continue thru the day on Friday before tapering off.  The weekend looks to be mostly clear and cold.  A few very weak troughs will try to break thru the ridge early next week, but don’t look like they will bring anything other than a few clouds and breezes.   In general, we are entering a more quiet pattern as we head toward the New Year.

Long range:

A lot of hints in long range models of a more El Nino pattern finally getting set up.  This most recent pattern was likely fed moisture via El Nino, but it wasn’t the classic strong southern jet pattern we associate with El Nino.  This “classic pattern” could get going in January.  Statistically, El Nino’s weather influences peak in late January and February for the U.S.   So we have plenty of time to watch for that.  Too early to know if this will be good or bad for Utah.  We’ll wait and see.


I’m going to wait until Saturday to show the snotel graphs so that way we have all the new snow accounted for.  But I can give you a general idea of what to expect, here is the basin averages for Utah as of yesterday:


Every region in the state is now above the median snowpack!!! What a difference one big storm cycle can make, especially this early in the season.  With some additional snow yesterday and last night, plus the storm tonight into tomorrow, I’d expect these numbers to improve.

Hope everybody has a great holiday filled with presents and powder!



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  • Jim

    What a week. Wish I was there. You should keep the snowfall table going for one more day. Not often we will see a week like this.

  • sweetenilorac

    Merry Christmas Evan…and thanks for all your hard work during a challenging year! But things are definitely looking up! 🙂

  • Zach Smith

    how I feel about the recent storm(s):

  • Dirty Mike n da boyz

    Was able to finally get out and get some turns from 9-4 today what a great Christmas present. Legs hurt so good! Merry Christmas everyone.

  • Jim

    NWS has expected snowfall amounts of 10-20 inches by tomorrow night. Snowbird website has 16-25 inches by tomorrow night. Tomorrow could be the best day of the week if you don’t mind storm skiing. Freshies every run.