Utah Daily Snow
By Evan Thayer, Forecaster Posted 2 months ago November 29, 2023
A long-duration storm is going to bring snow to Northern Utah mountains starting Friday and continuing through early Monday. Significant accumulations are possible. Drier weather returns for next week.
Short Term Forecast
We continue to inch closer to what should be a very good period for Wasatch snowfall. We are a bit behind the 8-ball so far this year with a slightly drier start to the season than we are used to. But this storm should go a long way toward opening up significant terrain and getting us rocking and rolling for the ski season.
Essentially, a moisture-laden atmospheric river is going to pummel the PNW starting on Thursday. By Friday, the remnants of this moisture will reach northern Utah. This is the first wave of moisture that is a bit weaker but should drop some light snow accumulations on Friday in the Wasatch mountains.
Next, after a break late Friday, we should see a more significant wave of moisture on Saturday bring heavy snow. This will continue into early Sunday, before a final wave of moisture arrives for later on Sunday into Sunday night before ending by Monday morning.
Liquid totals are quite impressive. Just look at the NBM total liquid precip through Monday:
A large area of 1-2.5" of liquid for the northern mountains.
Our OpenSnow algorithm has now climbed to over 2" of liquid for Alta Ski Area.
You can also see the three peaks of precipitation rates in the green bars as these waves of moisture reach Utah. There's also plenty of liquid left over for the Wasatch Back. Here is DV:
As for temperatures, we have cold air in place and this is going to start quite cold with snow levels easily down to all valley floors. Then, as the storm progresses, we are going to see warmer air infiltrate the region. Snow levels will rise and could come off valley floors by Sunday. Snow densities will also increase throughout the storm which means we could have some "upside down" snow that could cause some stability issues in the snowpack. It's never going to turn to full slop, but it may be noticeably thicker Sunday and especially Monday.
With all this liquid, how much snow can we expect? Well, the latest NBM is going wild:
That is assuming 10:1 ratios, which we should start much higher and still stay above even when the warm air gets here. I think this might be over-done a bit. But you get the idea, it's fairly significant.
When we apply our snow-to-liquid formula to our liquid forecast, we get the following amounts for Alta Ski Area:
If this is your first time reading a chart, the labels on the right are total accumulation. The orange line is the snow accumulation over time. By the time we get to Monday, there is over 30" of accumulation.
All things considered, I think the following amounts should be expected as total accumulation from Friday - Monday:
- Park City mountains: 15-25"
- Cottonwoods: 25-35"
- Snowbasin/PowMow/Beaver: 15-25"
- Sundance: 10-20"
- Eagle Point / Brian Head: <10"
No matter how you slice it, this is a good storm for Northern Utah. Even if we have somewhat limited terrain open for it, it will set us up for future storms as we will be able to get large portions of mountains open next week.
We are going to dry out to start next week and should stay dry until at least Friday. The Euro model in particular is showing a trough dropping into our region late next week with the possibility for snow December 8-9. You can see this trough in its ensemble mean heights:
Other models are not so keen on this happening, but it's worth watching as this would bring snow back to the area sooner rather than later. I will watch this over the coming days.
Evan | OpenSnow
P.S. Just an FYI. Goldminer's Daughter Lodge at the base of Alta is doing a 60% off room rate special if you stay before December 8. Just use code 'EARLY' at checkout. I say this only because I love doing stay-cations there! This upcoming Monday is my birthday so I'm treating myself to a full weekend in the mountains and a full-serving of powder. This stormy weekend might be the perfect time for you to consider doing the same while supplies last!
#1 - I am writing a weekly weather column in The Park Record through the ski season. It's similar to what I do here, but a bit more fun and irreverent and I try to make it educational as well. It's also angled more specifically to the Wasatch Back. Give it a read each Wednesday!
#2 - For those of you who listen to The Flakes Podcast, we are back for another season with our first nerd-out of the season.