A very moist storm with an atmospheric river feeding it will push moisture into Utah starting this afternoon. Heavy snow late tonight into Saturday morning. Saturday will feature storm day skiing and riding with free refills. By Sunday, the action switches to Southern Utah, where significant snow is possible Sunday night into Monday with a secondary wave of energy.
Things get started today as moisture starts to push into the region this afternoon with snow developing. Snow levels should initially be high. I want to say 6,500ft, but my gut tells me that with so much moisture in the air, it could cause them to be closer to the freezing level than typical — so they might be as high as 7,000 feet initially. Don’t freak out if you live at elevation and initial precip falls as a bit of rain. Tonight, the cold front will approach and the strongest part of the storm should be all snow as snow levels crash down to valley floors.
Snow should fall through day on Saturday before tapering off by Saturday evening. This is a very, very moist system which is being fed by an atmospheric river. Here is a look at forecast precipitable water values for tonight:
Notice the hose of moisture pushing directly into California. The Sierras act as a barrier for the deepest moisture to penetrate too far inland, but don’t worry, we’ll still see plenty of residual moisture to feed this cold front.
So how much snow? The 12km NAM model puts out the following for the Upper Cottonwoods:
Over 2 inches of liquid! The NAEFS ensemble suite:
Also, over 2″… in fact, every single ensemble shows at least 2 inches of liquid, which is a remarkable consistency. Finally, in pretty map form via the NAM-WRF composite:
With all of that in mind, I think it’s safe to say the highest elevations of the Northern Wasatch and the Cottonwoods should see 1-2 feet of snow by late Saturday night. The Wasatch Back (including PC) should get shadowed a bit, but the upper elevations of those resorts should be in the 8-16″ range.
Due to the warm air ahead of the front, the snow will start out dense and become fluffier by Saturday morning as the front pushes through. So it will be “right side up”, but still, this much relatively dense snow so quickly will almost certainly cause snow stability issues. Probably a good idea to stay out of the backcountry, or at least consult the UAC. While I think Saturday will be the best powder day of the weekend, it is highly likely that resorts will not have all their terrain open. It is also possible that there could be some road closures as well. These things are impossible to predict so just be aware and have a plan B just in case.
A secondary wave pushes into Southern Utah and northern Arizona on Sunday night into Monday with significant additional accumulations likely down there. Maybe a Monday “powder pilgrimage” to Brian Head is in the cards?
Anyway, this is definitely going to be a good weekend storm… So put on your helmet, your gloves, and your jacket and get excited for some fresh snow this weekend!
P.S. Free The Powder gloves is having a clearance sale on their 2015-16 inventory. So if you want a pair of high quality gloves/mittens for $45 with free shipping, all while supporting a local business, I highly recommend you check it out.