Brighton starts spinning its lifts today for the first time. Snowbird and Park City follow tomorrow. More snowfall likely late this weekend into early next week.
We are in a break period now between storms. Today, Brighton officially kicks off the lift-serviced ski season. Tomorrow Snowbird and Park City follow. Next weekend, we should see a host of other resorts opening. Ski season was delayed getting here, but it is finally here. Rejoice!
We’ll see our break in the weather last until early Sunday morning, when a first weak wave will bring a chance for snow to the region. Essentially, we have a series of waves that will drop down into the region early next week from Sunday thru Tuesday. The strongest energy is going to be dropping west, then south of our area. However, we’ll be left with a prolonged period of cold air and instability. That means that snow accumulations are still likely, especially in areas favored by northwest flow and orographics. We could even get in on some lake effect action.
It’s important to note that this will be the kind of storm where areas that may not be favored by northwest flow could see very little snow, but areas that are favored could received quite a bit of snow. Right now, the NAEFS ensembles have the following output for the Upper Cottonwoods:
The Canadian members are all higher than the GFS, which is pulling up the mean. But even the most conservative ensemble has over 20″ of snow for the Cottonwoods by Friday of next week. The more optimistic ones are over 30″. It will also be very cold and so the snow will be of the fluffy powder variety. Resorts will be able to supplement the natural snow with round-the-clock snowmaking. We should be good to go for all scheduled openings. If you’re looking to ski powder, at this time I’d say Monday or Tuesday would be your best bets.
We could have a follow-up system to start December on Wednesday night and Thursday with continued cold northwest flow. In general, pattern in the long range still favors west coast troughing so additional cold air and storms are possible through the long range.
If you’re wondering about our current snowpack, we are still lagging from our slow start to the season. Virtually the entire western US is below normal:
Believe it or not, Utah is generally faring well in comparison to some other regions. Still, we are between 40-65% of normal for most mountain ranges. More specifically, let’s have a look at Snowbird:
Purple line is our season thus far, and the blue line is the median. You can see we’ve had an upward tick from this week’s storms, but we are still sitting at 60% of median to date. With next week’s storms, the hope would be we could close that gap a little bit by the time we roll into December. The very good news is that it is clearly still very early in the season, so we have plenty of time to catch up and even surpass the “normal” values. Keep your fingers crossed that this active pattern continues indefinitely!
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