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March Madness


Clouds and winds increase Sunday ahead of a series of storms that is likely to bring significant snowfall totals to Utah this week. Temperatures will continue to cool as the week goes on. Next week looks likely to have chances for snow as well.

Short Term Forecast

We have a breezy day ahead of us with increasing clouds. This is in advance of our system that will move into Utah tonight and will be the first in a series of storms to hit Utah this week. I hope you enjoyed our 4-day break in the action because it's right back to piling it up again this week. 

Storm #1

The first system is going to pull moisture into Utah Sunday night through Monday into Monday night. The majority of the storm will be SW flow so expect areas such as Brighton/DV/Sundance to do well. NBM totals for this first system range from about 0.75 to 1.75" of liquid. 

The HRRR showing about 1.75" for the Upper Cottonwoods through Tuesday morning:

Snow levels are going to start off around 6000 feet -- could raise to 6500 feet at times before the cooler section arrives later on Monday and they fall to valley floors. Snow ratios should average about 12:1 on the upper mountain through the event. That means that we are looking at roughly 9-21" of snow. I think the Northern Wasatch, Western Uintas, and perhaps PC will be on the lower end of that range with Upper Cottonwoods/DV perhaps on the higher end. As for best time to ski powder, Monday is the safe bet as long as you're good with off and on snow for much of the day. Tuesday is terrain opening culmination and a bit of a break in the action. 

Storm #2

This system has a lot of moisture that will funnel into Southern Utah in particular out of the SSW. I'm a bit more concerned that if the parent low drops any farther south than guidance currently shows, Northern Utah mountains may have a tough time getting in on the goods. Still, models still fairly robust with a long-period of orographic enhancement of precip. The GFS shows quite a bit midweek for the Cottonwoods:

Personally, I think this might be a bit much. Still, I think another 0.75-2" of liquid is possible in Utah mountains from Tuesday PM through Thursday AM. Heaviest precip is likely on Wednesday, so another Wednesday storm powder day and Thursday culmination day are likely. This system will also probably have 12:1 ratios as well. I think another 10" to up to 2 FEET of snow is possible during this period. Because it is a persistent flow, the areas that do well will do VERY well while other areas that are not favored may not get as much. Expect high levels of variability. 

Storm #3

The third system is of a completely different nature than the first two. It will drop in directly out of the NW without all this SW flow nonsense. This is a more "classic" Utah storm with cold air. However, it's lacking moisture and may not produce nearly as much liquid. At this point I'm thinking only 0.4-0.8" of liquid, but ratios will be 15:1 or better, so we could easily get 6-12" of snow Friday through Saturday with some cold temperatures as well. 

Here are all three storms on the GEFS plumes:

Pretty much all ensembles show at least 2" of liquid this week with some going over 4". While this is for Alta in particular, I think we can broadbrush it for most Utah mountains. I think this week, if all goes according to plan, we are looking at at least 2 feet of new snow in the next 7 days, with the potential for 4 feet or more in a few favored areas. It's spread out well over three storms and that should mean several separate powder day opportunities. It feels good to see snowfall maps like this in late March with an already record snowpack for the date:

Extended Forecast

A quick glance at next weekend and we could see snow showers linger through Sunday in a cold northwest flow. Beyond that, we could see another storm for around Tuesday, March 28. The GFS is bigger on this idea than the Euro, but about half the Euro ensembles show this possibility so we will keep an eye on it. In general, the west stays somewhat active, so I would not be surprised to see more snow. 

Evan | OpenSnow