Another Active Week + Snowpack Update

Monday, December 12, 2016 at 7:20 am


A couple more days of break, then we get going on another active period that starts warm, but ends cold.  More powder days likely!


I’m recovering from 3 days of great skiing.  The dense nature of the snow means my legs are feeling it.  Still….it was worth every second! The storm totals were impressive as expected.  Maybe not huge numbers in terms of inches, but the SWE (snow water equivalent) was very healthy and provided a boost to our snowpack (details analysis below).

Today and Tuesday will be breaks in the action with no snow expected.

On Wednesday, moisture will start to stream into the area ahead of the next system.  Snow levels will be relatively high but we should see a periods of high elevation snowfall Wednesday and perhaps into Thursday.  Accumulations should generally remain on the light side, with perhaps just a few inches of creamy snow.

The main trough pushes through Friday with snow continuing possible into Saturday.  This system will rapidly cool temperatures behind the front and we should see snow down to the valley floors and light fluff in the mountains. Here’s a look at NAEFS ensembles:

Univ of Utah. Upper Cottonwoods

You can see the light bump on Wednesday from this overrunning moisture. Then, on Friday into Friday night we see a much more significant rise in QPF with the main system.  Generally, models showing 1.5 to 3″ of liquid with this storm.  Conservatively, I think the storm right now looks like perhaps 8-16″ for Park City mountain with 1-2 feet for the Cottonwoods.  Of course, it is still early and this is subject to change.  Storm day skiing/riding on Friday and powder day Saturday is the current outlook.

Long range:

It looks like we’ll have a break to end the weekend and begin next week.  We could see chances for snow return around December 21 and continuing up to Christmas day as long range ensembles seem to favor troughing.


As mentioned, we saw very good SWE numbers from this past storm.  Especially in the Northern Wasatch.  First, let’s look at Snowbird:

You can see this year (dark blue line) is now the second best when comparing to the previous 5 years — trailing only December 2012.   The snowpack is now at 101% of the median, that will likely drop below the median over the next few days, then leap above it again after the late week storm.  Not a bad place to be!

Snowbasin and Powder Mountain were hit hard.  Their closes snotel site, Ben Lomond Peak, shows a big leap with this storm:

It went from below the median to 172% of the median in just one storm!  However, it’s only a little above the average.  This is a really strange example of a large disparity between median and mean.  Likely because Ben Lomond mean has been pulled way up by some very big starts to seasons.  The median is more commonly used when measuring snowpack.

Finally, a look at Tony Grove Lake up near the Idaho border near Beaver Mountain:

TGL was struggling a bit, but leaped up almost to the median (96%) with this last storm.  Good news for Beaver, who have announced they will be opening on Thursday of this week.  Just in time for the upcoming storm!

I forgot to pull the snowpack on Thursday before the storm started, but I did grab it on Friday after just the first wave.  This is what it looked like for the whole state:

Not bad, the Wasatch was generally between 76-90% of median with the Central and Eastern parts of the state above.

Now, as of yesterday:

A huge improvement for the Wasatch and Northern Utah.  With numbers now between 117 and 127% of median.  We’ve got a bit of a buffer now in case of any dry spells.  Luckily, right now I don’t see any dry spells longer than a few days.  So we should be able to maintain or even improve upon these numbers heading through the rest of December.


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6 thoughts on “Another Active Week + Snowpack Update

  1. Austin Macareo

    Gad 2 tree run were pretty good yesterday. My legs are paying for it today as well. Can’t wait for the weekend!!

  2. robwbright

    Looks like we’ll be good for my early January trip to ‘Basin and PowMow. Do you think they’ll get 100% open by Jan 3? Thanks!

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