February Thaw

Monday, February 8, 2016 at 7:27 am


Strong high pressure ridge will keep storms away this week with Spring-like temperatures on the mountains.  A good time to get out of the poor air quality in the valleys and work on your goggle tan.


Ridge is firmly established and only strengthening.  This week will be quite warm on the mountain with mid to upper 40s above 8k feet.  The valleys will be inverted with poor air quality continuing to worsen.

The ridge will break down just a little bit this weekend, allowing for a weak system to clip the area.  At this time, it doesn’t look like there will be much, if any, snowfall associated with this system, but a cold front will help to drop temps and scour out valleys.  Unfortunately, the ridge will redevelop by early next week.

So when is our next real shot for snowfall?  Right now, both the GFS and Euro agree that a system could round the ridge and bring us some precipitation around February 18th.  This is at the very end of operational runs of the models, which means confidence is low in any details, but at this point it looks to be our next shot at something.

Overall, the pattern will be abnormally dry through the middle of February.  You can see that clearly with the CFS’s Week 1 and 2 precipitation anomalies showing very dry conditions over the western US:


If you’re looking for good news…. Long range models do still indicate that we will gradually transition to a more active pattern right at the end of February and into early March.  This is a long way out, so confidence in this is very low….  You can see this more active pattern when you look at Week 3 and 4 in the CFS:


For now, we are still in the waiting and hoping stage.  We’ll keep an eye on that potential February 18th system and see if models continue to hold on to that idea.  Stay patient… Strong ridges like this are common at one point or another during each winter.  I think chances are extremely high that we go back to an active pattern with plenty more powder days to come.



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16 thoughts on “February Thaw

  1. Luke

    Coming to Utah in 2 weeks, had a general question on what kind of conditions to expect. Will it the mountains be mostly icy?

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast

      Conditions will be dependent on the weather during your trip and right now we are too far out to know what the weather will be. However, I’d say conditions are rarely “icy” here — especially by East Coast standards. I think what Utah would consider to be “icy”, doesn’t even register on the scale of East Coast ice.

        1. Florida Sam

          Luke, fellow east coaster here. Here is what you can expect.

          better conditions than anything in the east coast by far. If it’s very warm in the afternoon, very early the next morning you can expect almost a crust on top. I don’t know if I would call it Ice, cause it’s not east coast ice, it’s more like firm on top.

          As soon as it warms up, the snow is actually a lot of fun. loosens up to something like “mash potatoes”.

          If no storms, don’t expect to find any pow unless by accident in the trees. Local know their mt’s, it’ll be gone.

          Most places during the week won’t be as crowded because locals mostly show up during the week if it’s special compared to the other days. So, short lines and Utah lines are already short.

          So, you could expect worse case to be a lot of fun long runs, but no pow. Best case is a sneaky Pow day from a surprise storm, and an epic day. Best boarding ive done is in Utah when it’s warm and a surprise storm hits and drops anything above 6 inches. Rides amazing.

          Everything besides worst case, is upside:and Utah upside is incredible.

          This is all assuming relative late winter early spring conditions, i.e. highs won’t be in the 60’s like they were last year. That was as close as Utah ever was to the east coast, but 3 mile runs and no lifts still make it hands down better.

          1. dhwilkerson

            Groomers are like miniature golf. It’s fine for a few grins once and a while, but nobody bases a five-day golf trip with the boys around putt-putt golf. After a day of groomers, all I want to do is blow my brains out.

            If groomers were so much fun, WSF would not be scouring the weather maps looking for any sign of snow. And WSF already has what? 19 days of powder this year. That’s more than most full-fare-out-of-towners get in ten years.

            So, let’s no kid ourselves. Groomers are mind numbingly boring after about the fifth time down.

          2. Brad Knoles

            Back in the day, we used to ski moguls as an alternative to groomers when the pow was gone. Kept us entertained for days. Good bump runs are hard to come by these days, though. Maybe Deer Valley or Alta.

          3. dhwilkerson

            When it involves your only trip of the year and your looking at a repeat of the last four years, there is no way to sugar coat two weeks or more of no snow and freeze thaw. Have you ever seen an Instagram picture on this page of someone skiing mash potatoes?

      1. Drew G

        Agreed :). It’s only truly ice if you can see the cat track marks embedded in a nice blue icy surface. Even then, its only a matter of having sharp edges.

    2. Donna Larson

      Two years ago, I skied ice in the morning and slush in the afternoon for five days. Last year, I skied ice top to bottom at Snowbird. So, you can get ice. Generally though, the snow is passable even when skied out.

    3. Robert

      I am here now, conditions are great by my standard. Skied Alta today, groomer Blues were awesome. I was here last year during president week, which from what the locals told me was one of the worst years ever and the week I was sking you could have skied in shorts. Skied deer valley that year, no ice to be seen accept maybe in the late afternoon on the heavy traveled greens. Skied Alta the same week and don’t remember seeing any ice. Imo you will be and fine and glad you came. This place is truly one of the best areas I have ever skied, pow or no pow, freezing temps or spring like conditions, this place rocks!

  2. Florida Sam

    Going to Utah for snowboarding is officially the hardest trip to plan.

    This will make what 3 years in a row that February is spring in Utah?

    1. Evan

      Keep the faith. I travel from South Florida every year to snowboard in Utah and leading up to this season, I had gone 4 out of the past 5 years without getting any fresh snow (after seemingly getting dominant storms every year of my life before the drought). This year my first trip was MLK and 6 days out, Evan T. was calling for zero with an outside chance for scraps. I was trying to convince my group to cancel our trip and rebook for Presidents Day because I’m a powder snob. All hope was lost… until everything changed. I rode powder 4 out of 5 days on my trip and had epic conditions. If your trip is anything more than 5 days out, stay strong. Otherwise, book a day with PC Powder Cats. Or practice skiing instead of snowboarding. Stay strong.

        1. Florida Sam

          Florida represent!

          Pow is awesome, but just any day in Utah is pretty good too.

          I still hold true to my statement, trying to a pick a week it’s gonna snow 4 months out…. yeah…..

          Flights from Florida within 10 days are 500+ roudn trip with 99 stops, so chasing isn’t easy. So for now, I’ve got 99 problems but a flight aint one.

  3. Craig Letton

    I know that you are forecasting for the Wasatch area but do you have a view on the potential precipitation at the end of the month potentially favouring areas further south like the San Juans or Taos?

  4. nobleanger

    Quick question – been checking multiple forecasts and it looks like likelihood of snow in wasatch, Jackson, Colorado etc has been going up and down over the last few days. Jackson is now reporting snow (though Spring-like temps) from Saturday 2/13 to Monday 2/15, though look warm and dry much of the week before that, like wasatch. Still early to tell I know, though just wondering as I’ll be at Alta over presidents, are those other areas subject to a similar ridge currently and does it look like we may get in on the weekend action?

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