Standing Above Last Year

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 6:30 am

Wednesday update:

Generally quiet weather is settling into the region.  A weak system will push through on Thursday with a few snow showers.  Accumulations will be minimal, but we can’t rule out a few inches in a few spots.  High pressure will keep us dry for most of the first half of February with warming temps next week.  Here is a look at the strong high pressure forecast to be over the West early next week:


This is going to shunt all systems from the area for at least 10 days or so.  There is a chance around February 13th or so of a system breaking through the weakening ridge — something to watch….  There are also signs of the pattern changing just after mid-month to one that may be more conducive for active weather….

Until then…

Cold air + valley snow + super stable airmass =  inversions and poor air quality.

Next week could be yucky.

Let’s hope that pattern change comes sooner than expected…. WSF






January, in general, was at or slightly above normal for most of Northern Utah.  Similar to December, rather than seeing one or two major storms, we saw frequent smaller storms that made for many, many powder days.  I’d say December and January were two of the best months we’ve had for powder skiing in Utah in a very long time.  Because of this, we start February in the same place we started January…  with every basin in the state reporting above the median snowpack:


A couple weeks ago I said that we were still close to last year in terms of snowpack numbers, but due to last year flatlining after mid-January, that we’d catch up and pass last year’s totals by the end of the month of January.   Sure enough, we’ve done just that.   Snowbird compared to last year:


At 104% of median, Snowbird’s snotel is already almost to the seasonal peak of last year’s snowpack.



Also at 104% of median, Brighton has already surpassed last year’s peak snowpack numbers.

Park City (Thaynes Canyon):


PC is at 102% of median and, like Brighton, is now above last season’s peak.

Ben Lomond (Snowbasin/PowMow):


Ben Lomond Peak up in the neighborhood of Snowbasin and PowMow is at 94% of median, but is already WAY ahead of last year’s peak snowpack numbers.

Timpanogos Divide (near Sundance):


Timp passed last year’s peak by Christmas and has not looked back.  Now nearly doubling it.

Tony Grove Lake (Beaver Mountain):


Tony Grove is the only Wasatch location that still has a ways to go to catch last year, despite sitting at 104% currently.   Which speaks more to the fact that last year wasn’t quite as bad way up north.

So now we know where we sit currently.  While these numbers are not spectacular historically, they sure are a helluva lot better than last year.  Plenty of snow to get us through this upcoming dry spell before active weather returns.  Then we do what we do every spring in the Wasatch, ski more powder.


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  • Just realized Duchesne River is below median… So almost every basin…

  • P Gee

    thanks much…do rising temps (will we have melting at the ski areas?) come with the early Feb ridge? I’m hoping we aren’t getting into the melt/freeze cycle….thanks.

  • hongziyang

    Good powder skiing indeed. Dec-Jan was the first time since Mar-Apr 2011 Alta has had two above average snowfall months in a row. (They have only had 6 months above average months since apr 2011, all according to their snowfall history page – YMMV).

  • kdawnz

    Any way you could summarize the last month as far as predicted vs reality? I felt like we came into January saying we were in ridge city for a good couple weeks, but then kept having these little storms push through. The talk if I remember right was a return to a more active pattern at the end of January. January was awesome. I thought that was inspite of the ridge going on until the end of the month, with many small storms pushing through and overproducing. Last weekend was our first weekend with a true big storm part of an active pattern I thought. Maybe I misunderstood the situation for most of last month, and we were in an active pattern. If not, did something change? Thanks for all you do! You’re awesome!

    • Jim

      maybe i can help…in the first week of January the long range was showing ridging for mid month and a return to an active pattern by month end. A few days later the models did a big reversal and as we know January ended up being very active with no ridging. The models are now once again showing ridging starting early next week until mid month. That is as far out as most models go and as Evan mentions today there is an indication that the ridge breaks down by then hopefully allowing a return to an active pattern for the second half of the month (deja vu?) Maybe the models do a reversal again like last month. Maybe the ridge persists longer (hope not). Very strong El Nino conditions still persist and the models have been having a tough time with the long range. It may be wishful thinking but would not be shocked if ridging was shorter than the models depict and we are back to active pattern sooner rather than later. Evan feel free to correct me if i’m wrong on this.

      • Sounds about right. Bottom line. Nothing is set in stone, particularly beyond 5 days.

  • Floyd Teter

    While the numbers are not spectacular from a long-term historical standpoint, this does seem to be the best I’ve seen in the 4 years I’ve lived here. BTW, in those four years, wasatchsnowforecast has become the most reliable source of weather & powder I’ve found. Thank you!

  • Robert

    Fortunately and unfortunately I will be there all of next week during this dry spell. Any pointers on what resort, in your opinion, will be the best place to ski. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thx!

    • Evan

      if you are a powder hound, I can’t recommend Park City Powder Cats enough. The terrain at Thousand Peaks Ranch is utterly insane and you will ski untracked powder up to 2 weeks from the last storm. I went there last year when I was in town for 10 days during which it snowed 0″ (for the 4th year in a row). This day was the saving grace of my trip.

  • Erock

    Highest elevation typically has the best snow preservation. Little Cottonwood Canyon due to north facing slope’s as well

  • Tom Bennett

    Nows the time when we have to grit our teeth and do the unthinkable—-dust off our hard pack and frontside skis. Find the joy in carving groomers, hitting bumps, and honing our skills in technical chutes and steeps.

    OR as Evan recommends (and I second the notion and the organization) give PC Powder Cats a try! Thousand Peaks will still be relatively untouched.

  • Patrick

    will it be warm enough to make the snow soggy even above 9k feet? i’m flying in for next week (haven’t skied during an inversion before) and wonder if the bowls in BCC will be frozen until it warms up each day…