If you went to bed early last night in northern Utah only a couple of inches had fallen at many resorts as of 7PM. That was a different story 12 hours later when you woke up to 18 inches of blower pow in the Cottonwoods, and nearly a foot at Park City. It is still snowing in many areas so the amounts may creep up slightly with storm totals approaching 2 feet.
Every resort in northern Utah nabbed double digits in the past 24 hours!
Image: Alta Town Marshal’s office in full winter like burial- Photo: @Powderchaser Steve
The only exception are resorts in the southern end of the Beehive State. Even Sundance near Provo reported 10 inches this morning (True gem especially during midweek). Beaver Mountain near the Idaho border got nailed with 19 inches primarily during Sunday. Talk about a reverse powder day (Mount Baker term for powder that falls during the day versus night)! I personally prefer “Reverse Powder days” as the crowds are lighter and most folks have left the slopes by 2PM. Cold air and moisture moved very slowly from the Tetons Saturday night into northern Utah on Sunday. This set up for intense snow bands and some thunder with the passage of the cold front working from Montana, into Wyoming and eventually Utah on Monday.
Below: Cold Front approaching Utah late Sunday night with heavy snow moving from north to south. Image: Meteostar.
The Tetons nabbed 12-15 inches (Mainly overnight) for Sunday morning at both Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (Very high stoke factor). That storm crept into Logan Utah Sunday landing nearly a foot in town and nearly 19 inches at Beaver Mountain.
Early Sunday evening it starting puking powder in the northern and and central Wasatch (Snowbasin, Powder, Park City, Brighton, Solitude, Alta, Snowbird). At one point Sunday evening there was 3-4 inches that fell in just 1 hour at Alta between 9-10 PM. Intense snow cranked all night, which closed Little Cottonwood Canyon this morning at 6AM for avalanche control. I beat the closure by just 2 minutes, and crept into my secret spot at the Cliff Lodge where I closed my eyes dreaming of 1st tram, that I ultimately caught.
Image: My 5:55 AM drive up Little Cottonwood Wood Canyon- Photo: Powderchaser Steve
Snow was light and deep, however buried bones still exist at most of the upper entrances of the steeper terrain at Snowbird. Snowbird, known for staggered openings (never expect upper cirque or mid cirque to be open on 1st run) surprised us all with the tram announcements “Good morning everyone, terrain open at this time includes upper Peruvian gulch, mid cirque, Baldy, and all runs accessed by Regulator Johnson.” There was a glaze on everyones eyes as at least 2 people shouted “what, repeat that, really”. Suddenly the doors of the tram slid open and everyone raced for upper mountain deepness mixed in with bones, some natural debris, and face shots. It reminded me of the old days when almost everything was open for 1st tram! It was a frenzy of locals mixed with holiday newcomers wishing they had a guide.
Last week brought deep snow to many Colorado resorts. Notable winners were Wolf Creek with 38 inches in 7 days. Snowmass who badly needed snow in January that nailed a bullseye, with 62 inches in February alone. I was at Highlands on Thursday hiking the bowl with over 50 inches in 7 days. Those may have been my best runs of the season.
A few weeks ago, I reported that many areas in Utah were only 50% of water average for the season. I also forecasted a decent storm in the 3rd week of February preceded by some 3-7 inch events. That happened consistently improving conditions in Utah. Park City and surrounding mountains nabbed a surprise 12-15 inch dump last week, followed by the 12-20 inches today. When I asked the folks at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City if this will push up our averages, they stated “We need several more deep storms, but this storm will certainly help.”
In looking at weather models, its unlikely that the Rockies will get stuck in a ridge of high pressure in the next 7-14 days. There are signs that some weak or moderate systems will return to the Rockies late this week and again the following week. It’s likely that low pressure will drop further south even making its way into the Sierra late this week and early next week. The trend is for additional areas of low pressure with less confidence on who will see the best snow. My confidence is high that we will not see a return of a high pressure ridge in the mid term.
Image: GFS ensembles for February 28th continuing a pattern of unsettled weather for the west, hinting at the Sierra? This pattern is similar in earlier and later days of looking at the models.
As I said in my last story for TGR, keep optimistic as we have several more months to reap the rewards that hopefully continue to help the snowpack in Utah. The Sierra may get some much needed love especially next week. My confidence is increasing.