Thinking up titles can be hard

Monday, February 15, 2016 at 7:55 am


Some fresh snow yesterday with a few snow showers lingering on Monday morning.  Inversion conditions should be at least partially improved.  A break for the next few days before the next system pushes in on Thursday.


A few snow showers lingering in places this morning, but yesterday’s system is mostly done with the area.  Amounts were exactly as expected.  Virtually all resorts reporting in that 2-5″ range.  The one exception, as we noted it likely would be, was LCC.  Alta/Snowbird reporting 7-8″ over the past 24 hours.  Probably not a full-on powder day, but enough for softened turns.

The other big hope was we would be able to scour out the inversions.  We didn’t get much in the way of surface winds to help us in our quest.  We did see improvement, but it looks like a weak inversion remains in the lower portions of the valleys.  You can see the poor air quality caused by the inversion in this current image of downtown SLC:


Unfortunately, inversion will continue and perhaps strengthen a bit over the coming days as we are in shortwave ridging before our next system.  It should not be as bad as last week however as we aren’t starting with as cold an airmass,  there’s a bit less snow cover on the ground, and we are reaching the end of inversion season as the sun angle gets higher.

The next storm will approach late Wednesday with winds picking up out of the southwest.  This is a very warm flow so we should see warm temps, perhaps even in the valleys if we can mix out the inversion by then.  It looks like the front will push through during the day on Thursday with snow falling and snow levels crashing from up near 7k feet to valley floors.  The timing is about 6 hours faster today than yesterday with this front.  This is significant because it could push the best powder to Thursday afternoon rather than Friday morning.  Of course, skiing should be good over both periods, but it’s something to watch.

As for amounts, here is a look at the current NAEFS ensembles:

The current mean is just over an inch of qpf for the Upper Cottonwoods.  However, you can see that ensembles are still all over the place.  Some show practically nothing, another outlier shows almost 3″.  That means that confidence is low.  Based on this low confidence and the fact that usually this overdoes things by 20-30%, I think right now we can expect to be in the .5 – 1.0″ range.  Assuming an average of 12:1 ratios, that means 6-12″ of snow for the upper cottonwoods and probably 4-8″ elsewhere.  Obviously, this is a preliminary estimate and is subject to change as we get closer.

Models are now latching on to an idea of a weak follow up system pushing through Saturday morning.  At best, it’s probably just going to offer a refresh of a couple inches, but that could help keep things fun on the weekend.

Late weekend into next week, we ridge back up.  This looks like another very strong and stubborn ridge.  This will likely keep us dry for the last week of the month.  There are still indications of a pattern change right around the beginning of March, but I’m not going to buy into that just yet.  I’m waiting for any such changes to enter the 10-day window before discussing it in any detail.

February certainly seems to be our “thaw” month this winter.  Currently Alta has received 25″ of snow this month and may only receive another 6-12″ thru the end of the month if current forecasts hold.  No doubt we are going to fall behind average as we head into March, but don’t get too down just yet.  I’ve got a feeling El Nino might have the last laugh this Spring.


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11 thoughts on “Thinking up titles can be hard

  1. Florida Sam

    Suggestions for Titles:

    The Ridge Strikes Back
    The Ridge Awakens
    Jokes on those Flying In
    Powder Returns!…. Just kidding, it’s February.
    Zoom the Groom

  2. morganhomer

    East Coaster here – trying to get one quick trip in this year (I can be pretty flexible so it’s all about storm timing)….should I pull the trigger and get there Wed night or wait it out until March in hopes that something bigger is on the horizon? Always interested in hearing the local thoughts!

    1. Snowtird

      Going by past experience , March is always a good bet, powder riding midweek, off road riding on weekends in moab, cold beers and late day sun!!

      1. morganhomer

        And your 2 cents is worth one heck of a lot more than mine!! Appreciate the feedback / insight (and all of the work you do on the site – far and away the best source of info out there)!

    2. Brad Knoles

      I’m no expert like WSF, but in 30+ years (I started very young ;)) skiing the Wasatch, probably 85% of my most memorable powder days have occurred in March and even first 10 days of April. Many even last half March/first half April. Everybody’s at Home Depot buying fertilizer and going to soccer games while the smart operators are shredding. For whatever reason, February is almost never a great month in my personal recollection.

    1. Faceplant

      Yup. I had fresh lines all day. Not deep but dense and smooth. Kinda skied “bottomless” in that I didn’t hit any of the scratch underneath.

  3. Dylan Foster

    Rain all day yesterday and more this morning at PCMR, really weird wet snow. At least it kept the holiday crowd away.

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