Big Numbers

Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 8:36 am


A few light snow showers remain today in a cold northwesterly flow.  Tomorrow (Friday) a ridge of high pressure takes over and we see a drying and warming trend that will carry us through the weekend and much of next week.


A few snow showers still around in a northwest flow.  Generally, accumulations have been light over the past 24 hours. Most resorts reporting 1-2″ of new snow. The main exception being LCC which is reporting 7-10″ of new snow.  No surprise there as they are the most favored by this type of flow.

Snow showers should clear up by late tonight and high pressure takes control through the weekend into next week with sunny skies and warming conditions on the mountain.  The valleys will become inverted with cooler temps and fog/haze developing.  Good weekend to get into the mountains and have a tailgate bbq and enjoy all the new snow.

Speaking of new snow, let’s look at where all this fresh snow put us with our snowpack situation.  Let’s start with Snowbird:

You can see this year compared to our previous 5 seasons.  We are already higher than the peak snowpack in 3 of those 5 seasons and probably just one good storm away from passing the other two.  Overall, we are at 189% of the median which is impressive for this time of year.  We are at 76% of the season total date median max snowpack.   In general, very very good conditions!

Farther north, Ben Lomond Peak (near-ish to Snowbasin and PowMow) saw the most snowfall this month of any location in the state:

At the beginning of January, they were sitting healthily above average with about 20″ of SWE (snow water equivalent).  But then, they added an astonishing 24+ inches of liquid to their snowpack this month.  That’s more than 20 FEET of snow.  Like Snowbird, this also puts them at 189% of median for today’s date.  But unlike Snowbird, it puts them already ahead of their typical peak snowpack depth observed at the beginning of April.  They are at 118% for the season, which means that if they didn’t see another snowflake, they’d likely finish the season above normal.

Actually, that principal applies to the whole state.  As a state, Utah is so far ahead of normal, that if we saw no more snow and just maintained our current snowpack, we’d still be above normal on April 1.

Impressive stuff!

Now if you’re wondering how this magnificent season compares to 2010-11 season that set the gold standard for Utah snowfall….

For Snowbird, we are running just a little ways behind, but generally holding our own.  If we can manage a big February, we might be able to catch up.  Unfortunately, March-May of 2011 saw almost constant barrage of storms.  I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to keep up with that record setting pace.  The snowpack was at 75″ of SWE on June 1st, 2011.  I still have to shake my head and laugh at that number.  Crazy!

Long Range:

High pressure ridging will carry us right on into February.  A low pressure system will slowly advance on the west coast over the first few days of the month.  By February 3-4, we should have a shot for some precipitation.  It does look like this system is going to weaken considerably as it battles the ridge.  Beyond February 5th, I don’t have any insights into specific storms.  But at the same time I don’t see any signs of ridging returning in any meaningful way.  At this point we can only hope that this February 3-4 system is the first in a series.  Stay tuned…


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5 thoughts on “Big Numbers

  1. Dafty Punk

    2010-2011 will be the winter we tell our grandkids about. Let’s hope the same applies this year.

  2. Mitchell Frankel

    The numbers are a little misleading. Our snow WATER equivalent is killing it. Our snowfall is above or close to average. As snow riders, we care about the snowfall much more than the water equivalent, or at least the relevancy between the two. Our winter has definitely been spectacular so far and dawn in LCC was blower today.

    1. Chad Niel

      We also care about SWE in the early season because those dense storms have led to much greater coverage than the inches alone say.

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