One After Another

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 7:19 am


Light snow will fall in the mountains Thursday morning before tapering off during the afternoon.  Snow will re-intensify Thursday night into Friday with moderate accumulations for the Northern Utah mountains.  Another storm likely for Saturday night into Sunday with more storms possible next week.


A very active pattern is on our doorstep with multiple storms over the next 7-10 days:

Storm #1:

A weak system will push into the region tonight (Wednesday night) with snow developing for Thursday morning.  This system does not look impressive but will do well to prime the region with moisture and pave the way for stronger waves behind it.  I would expect generally 1-4″ by midday tomorrow with 3-6″ for the Cottonwoods.  Thursday will probably be a “dust on crust” ski day.

Storm #2

A stronger wave pushes in for Thursday night thru Friday.  This one will bring heavy snow to areas favored in a SW flow on Thursday night (Sundance, Snowbasin) then the heaviest snow will shift to the Cottonwoods (northwest flow) during the day Friday.  I’d expect 4-8″ with up to 12″ for favored areas by Friday evening.

This means that Storm 1 and Storm 2 together will generally bring 6-18″ of snow to the Wasatch.  You can see what the NAM model is currently portraying for snowfall in the Upper Cottonwoods:


Storm #3:

After a break during the day on Saturday, moisture will once again increase Saturday night with snow developing and continuing into Sunday.  This storm doesn’t look overly strong, but we could see light to moderate additional accumulations by Sunday afternoon for the mountains.

Storm #4:

GFS and EC models both have come into a general agreement on another system for Tuesday/Wednesday of next week.  Low confidence in the timing or strength, but the active pattern does look to continue.

Storm #5:

As of right now, both models show another storm 10 days out (January 22-23).  Of course, this far out we have zero confidence but again, the active pattern looks like it may continue thru the long range which is great news.

You can see each system clearly when we look at the total accumulated precip in the 06z GFS model:


At this point, no single storm looks particularly huge for us, but the totals will most certainly add up over time.  With so much storm energy, it seems highly likely that at least one of these storms will overproduce as well.  The GEFS output for the Upper Cottonwoods puts out the following QPF over the next week:


A mean of 4″.  Even if we assume this is 25% overdone and we received 3″ of liquid over the next 7 days, it would still mean very good things for our snowpack.  Keep in mind, there appears to be additional storms beyond 7 days as well.

Speaking of snowpack, a generally quiet January so far has seen our numbers slip a bit.  We are now below average in far Northern Utah near average for the Central part of the state and we remain about average in the Southern portion.


As you’d expect in an El Nino year, it’s areas to our south and west that are seeing the best numbers with areas to the northeast doing poorly.  I’d expect this general trend to continue thru the rest of Winter and into early Spring.

At Snowbird we are at 93% of the median snowpack and running a bit behind last year, however I’d expect us to catch and pass both the median snowpack and last year shortly.


Brighton is also at 93% of median but is just about dead even with last year.  Again, I’d expect us to jump well ahead of last year by the end of January.


Overall, not a bad place to be in.  With so much action in the forecast, I’d expect these numbers to see a significant boost over the coming weeks.




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8 thoughts on “One After Another

  1. Michael Polei

    bring on the faceshots!!! We’ll all be guzzling pow in no time!
    Will there be much accumulation on the valley floor by Friday? I only get pow-days if my boss is too scarred to drive (which typically only requires 1-3 inches)

  2. Steve Noufer

    The GFS continues to be bullish out close to the end of the month. How do the other models look?

  3. Jim

    We talked about MJO last week… when it was in phase 8 and looking to stay there for a while (models reflected that at the time) but has since quickly moved into phase 1 and is forecast to head into phase 2 next couple of days then circle back to weak phase 8. This does seem to coincide with sudden change in model solutions past few days.

  4. Andrew Ballard

    My guess is for Powder Mountain and Snowbasin getting the most snow overnight tonight. What are your thoughts on this?

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