“Crazy”, “Nuts”, “Apocalyptic”

Friday, February 19, 2016 at 6:17 am

Saturday update:

A weak system clipping the region this morning with some snow, mainly north of I-80..  Another weak system will clip the area Monday into Monday night.  A few snow showers possible, but probably not much in the way of accumulations…

GFS and Euro at adds for next weekend.  GFS wants to bring a storm in, Euro keeps us dry.  We’ll give the models another 24 hours to figure things out.  WSF




After quite an impressively active weather day yesterday, we are much quieter today.  A couple weak waves will brush the area over the next few days, but in general, dry conditions will prevail for the foreseeable future.  Pattern change still the hope for the turn of the month.


Wow! Yesterday was a unique weather day.  The title of today’s post is in reference to some of the adjectives used to describe yesterday’s conditions.  The previous two titles on Wednesday and Thursday were “Messy Storm” and “Wild and Quick” respectively, so it was somewhat expected, but even I wasn’t prepared for just how intense the weather was yesterday.  Wind gusts on the ridges of 80+ MPH with even a couple over 100 MPH.  Winds in the valleys blowing down scaffolding and power lines.  Then, around midday, an “apocalyptic” looking cold front pushed through valley.  I sat and watched as it pushed in over the Oquirrhs, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I saw 50 lightning strikes in 20 minutes.  Very unusual for February.

Needless to say, this caused some issues at many resorts.  Lots of reports of wind holds and lightning holds as the front went through.  Some resorts were able to open after the main front had passed, while others decided to not even try to open yesterday.

As for snowfall accumulations, the big winner was Beaver Mountain with 14″ since Wednesday evening!  Park City and Brighton reporting 11″ storm total.  10″ for Snowbasin and Powder Mountain.  9″ for Deer Valley. 8″ for Solitude and Snowbird.  Alta only reporting 6″, but their automated station shows a 9″ increase in snow depth, so they might have seen more than that.  It should be noted that, in general, these totals are likely taken from the upper mountain.  I doubt the lower elevations of Park City received anywhere close to 11″….  Maybe somebody who lives up there can verify….?  Anyway, you can see full 24 and 48-hour resort snowfall totals by click “Snow Report” on the menu bar.  Overall, not a bad storm, but perhaps not the best for skiing purposes.

Generally quiet weather for now.  A weak system will clip the region on Monday afternoon and evening, bringing a chance for a few light snow showers.  Little, if anything, in the way of accumulations.  High pressure firmly in control for next week.   You can see the overall pattern in this image for next Thursday (2/25):


You can see we have a trough in the central Pacific, a ridge over the west, and then another trough in the East.  Stubborn pattern.   The 06z Operational GFS this morning does try to bring a system into our region next weekend, but unfortunately, that solution does not have the support of the Euro or even the GEFS ensembles at this time, so I’m not buying what the GFS is selling quite yet.

The hope is that the pattern shifts as we head into March.  At this point it is mostly just speculative, but the GEFS ensembles do show a different, more El Nino-like, pattern returning.  Here is the same graphic for March 6th:


You can see the trough has extended eastward into the west coast.  Looks like the sub-tropical jet is making a return with high pressure over the east coast.  Obviously, this is 16 days out and not something we can reliably forecast, but at this point, all we can do is speculate and hope.


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21 thoughts on ““Crazy”, “Nuts”, “Apocalyptic”

  1. Dafty Punk

    Rode park city after they got the lower mountain re-opened yesterday around 2:30pm and I’d say they got 4″ down low. Looking forward to first chair today to see what the upper Mtn looks like.

  2. Eric Hoffman

    Since the majority of the resorts had to close all day, I would say first chairs today might be worth the trip up.

  3. Dirty Mike n da boyz

    Let us park city people have our moments. Who really cares if they decided to add on an inch or 7 on our totals.

    1. David

      If you go to Brighton, you can get a Twilight pass to stretch the day a bit. They offer limited night skiing, but the suns up at least for the first hour + plus. The ‘night’ terrain is limited, but still good to be out on Day 1.

  4. Brad K.

    Rode Brighton this morning. Conditions were def variable but over all pretty awesome. At least 10 big trees along GW lift that were blown over or snapped in half from the wind. Craziness.

  5. Brad K.

    And it was pretty weird driving past a closed down Solitude on the way down the canyon. Not a chair running or a track in the snow.

  6. Gentile Sodomite

    Snowbasin skied well, but the gates weren’t open and patrol was sitting around the top shack complaining about violators. By the time they had routes finished on sisters, strawberry shut down from wind.
    Unimpressed with control work at ‘basin. The patrol needs to learn to move faster and give us the product.

    1. Hugh Jass

      Or maybe you need to learn to appreciate the people that keep “the product” from killing you. Winds were strong enough to shut down a lift and you’re surprised the gates into the unpatrolled, un-avalanche-controlled backcountry, where A VIOLATOR JUST DIED LAST SEASON were closed?!?

      PLEASE visit https://utahavalanchecenter.org/ before you kill yourself or somebody else.

      And please always show ski patrol respect. They keep us all alive.

      1. Gentile Sodomite

        Oh, I appreciate them. And knowing the terrain there and the fact that they already shot it once, I wouldn’t have hesitated to ski it.
        The area I’m referring to was not where the death occurred last year- which was out of the boundary.
        If the patrol wants to sit around and complain or play cops instead of going out to mitigate the hazard, I have a problem.
        I know the terrain, I know the patrol, and I know the program there. The reason they wouldn’t open the cirque was they were afraid someone would fall on the traverse(!?) The patrol is slow on routes and they are controlling slopes above the public in the middle of the day. They need to move faster on route and open it. Skier compaction is the best tool they have, but they let the wind continue to load it, and the sun to saturate it and sit around instead of working.
        Patrol can’t make skiers safe, but they can make terrain safer. They don’t “keep us alive”- they respond to accidents and deliver the product safely to the consumer. I can respect them and still think they’re slow and unmotivated.

        1. Eva Odland

          Patrol does make skiers and skiing safe in ways not always as visible as throwing bombs on slide terrain.

          On any given day the main priority for ski patrol is the primary hazard of the day to the most skiers and riders. On a day facing high winds, lift safety and guest traffic management are the top priorities. These days require more resources and have a high risk of creating injuries and having those injuries become critical.

          Realize in extreme high winds any critical evac requiring helicopters would probably not be an option as they could be grounded.

          What looked like sitting around to you was actually ski patrol remaining at ready to assist with wind hold lift situations which are NOT routine and can potentially put guests at risk in many ways.

          Wind Holds appear simple. But there is much more going on. Patrol ensures there are no people on the lift, no one caught at isolated load areas and to be ready for wind/lift incidents (i.e. a slow speed evac and closing of lift or evac of disable/damaged lift) Each lift has a Wind Hold procedure which is essentially the same as closing. Access runs are closed, lift is evacuated, runs leading down are swept. Lift line checked for anyone remaining.

          So while many Patrol staff are ready or dealing with lift holds the remaining staff have to be ready for responding to injuries. So priority goes to those activities over opening expert terrain for a few skiers.

          On high wind days Patrol has to prepare for:
          1. Multiple simultaneous lift holds.
          2. Manage resources to ensure evac of injured skiers is maintained.
          3. Critical care and evac without aid of helicopter.
          4. Damaged lift and manual lift evac (worst case scenario)

          I was a professional Ski Patrol Director in the 90’s and it sounds like given the conditions and that you mentioned with lift or lifts being closed due to high winds the Patrol was actually doing exactly what they needed to to prevent any bad situations from getting worse. I hope you keep that in mind the next time high winds threaten to stop lifts at your area. Those are not routine events and can potentially be very dangerous.

          Maybe you should volunteer as a mountain host or join ski patrol as a volunteer member and you can gain a better appreciation of all the ways mountain management and patrol work ensure your safety everyday.

          1. Gentile Sodomite

            They are my friends on the patrol. But I was there. They were sitting around talking. I used to patrol there. One of my biggest complaints was that they aren’t aggressive enough with their openings and move too slow on route.
            I was there when the wind picked up. They could have had the gates open earlier, but they chose not to because of they hadn’t thrown shots yet- only avalauncher.
            Snowbasin patrol is great, and they do a good job. However, they take too long to open terrain after it snows, and they like to carpet bomb the mountain.
            I know what it takes to open the mountain. That’s why I’m critical of them. It was a calm morning with light accumulation. They should have completed their routes before public loaded lifts and had the gates open. If they’re going to sit around and eat lunch while there is work to be done, I’m going to complain.
            I have a lot of respect for patrol, but I still think that Snowbasin needs to get terrain open faster and love quicker on their routes. They throw explosives in the middle of the day, above terrain where they know people violate the sign line.
            All I’m saying is they need to work faster so they can open gates sooner. It’s not a backcountry snowpack-it’s storm snow.
            Ski patrol is always hyper defensive when criticized. They aren’t willing to admit that someone else might be right.

          2. Hugh Jass

            So let’s get this straight, you show your “friends” “respect” by publicly trashing them and their work?

            And by “they” aren’t willing to admit someone else might be right, you really mean yourself, right?

          3. Gentile Sodomite

            Yeah, or the rest of the people who share my opinion. Plenty of guys on the patrol agree with me, too.
            I’m not just trashing them. I’m saying what they need to do to do a better job.
            I’m saying anything here I wouldn’t say to their faces.
            I can respect them but admonish their slow pace and wish they’d work harder at opening the whole mountain.
            I have a good deal of insight into the operations, which is why I’m comfortable giving them a hard time.

          4. Hugh Jass

            Haha whatever man. You sound like a politician: your delivery is great, but your content is bullshit.

            You’re complaining on an internet WEATHER blog that you didn’t get to ride your favorite spot at a ski resort yesterday. Waaah!!! First-world problems to the fullest.

            Stop being a baby and a) (re)-join ski patrol, b) take this up with your “friends” on patrol and/or c) earn your turns since there’re no closures in the backcountry.

            Let us know how it goes when you tell your “friends” who wake up before dawn for meager wages to do dangerous, physical labor to keep us safe that they need to work harder, better and faster because it’s negatively impacting your leisure time…

          5. Gentile Sodomite

            Suck it. Suck it long and suck it hard. You’re the one making mountains out of mole hills. I expressed my opinion and you started an argument with me without knowing anything about me. I paid for a pass to ski the mountain and when they don’t open it, I feel ripped off, especially when they just need to work harder.

          6. Hugh Jass

            Well, if you’re quoting one of my favorite SNL skits, then we can be friends.

            And I was even going to invite you to head ski patrol at my soon opening Mole Hill Mountain Ski Resort, “Where all the gates are open,” but after googling FOAD, I don’t think so.

            Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? 😉

          7. Gentile Sodomite

            No, but I did something with this mouth.
            Seriously, though. Basin patrol is slow as balls.
            If you ski there, you know.

  7. Smokey

    Beaver was riding 2-4 inches today (2/19). All of the aspects were wind blown. I think a foot of that 14 inches blew into Wyoming.

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