A potent winter storm will move into the region tonight and bring snow for most of the weekend to the mountains and even the valleys. A white Christmas continues to look likely for virtually the entire state of Utah. Santa bringing deep POW to all!
Sorry for not having a full update yesterday. I was doing a bit of cat skiing up at Whisper Ridge, which was amazing by the way. I will do a full write-up on my adventure at WR at some point soon for those of you considering a cat ski adventure. But for now…. We’ve got a good Christmas storm to dive into.
There are two parts of this storm, the first will begin late tonight and into the day tomorrow (Saturday). This will be a warmer southwest flow that will be drawing copious moisture into the state of Utah. Southern Utah and areas favored by a southwest flow stand to do the best in this regime. That includes the northern Wasatch and Uintas. Snow levels until Saturday afternoon will probably be in the 5500 to 6500 foot range. Winds will also be gusty during this time ahead of the front, so wind holds on susceptible lifts are a possibility.
Then, the front moves through Saturday afternoon. Models show snow levels dropping and a fairly prolonged period of heavy snowfall Saturday evening into Saturday night. This is when areas favored by NW flow will do well. Valleys should get snowfall during this period as well. Winds should die down. Late Saturday and Sunday should be the best times for powder skiing throughout the state.
Looking at the numbers, the Cottonwoods show the following range of NAEFS QPF values:
Between 1-3″ of liquid. That’s a large range for being this close to the storm, which is why confidence is lower than normal and why I’ve been conservative with snowfall totals thus far. But, it does mean the the Upper Cottonwoods could see 1-3 feet of snowfall. The 12km NAM should be a good indicator in this type of storm and it’s showing about 25″ which seems like a good estimate for the Cottonwoods:
You can see how the Cottonwoods see generally light precip for the first half of the storm in the SW flow, but then see heavier accumulations Saturday afternoon and evening as the flow turns NW.
All things considered, I think continuing with a forecast of 1-2 FEET for all Utah mountains is a good bet. There could be pockets of higher amounts if things go our way.
As for those of you just hoping for a White Christmas, looks like almost all of us will have fresh snow for Christmas morning. 100% chance of at least 1 inch of snow for all but a few lower elevation portions of Southern Utah:
In each of the last few years we’ve had powder days on and around Christmas Day. This year looks no different. There will be plenty of powder out there, so EAT IT UP…
We may have a chance for a weaker system for the middle of next week (Wednesday the 28th). Then perhaps a break in the action to carry us through New Year’s Day. Ensembles favor troughing developing again after the new year.