Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Return of the Greatest Snow on Earth?

What Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh away.  Our run of quality ski conditions and low-moderate avalanche hazard, extending all the way back to early November, ended this weekend.  Ski conditions on the Wasatch Back were said to be like "eastern skiing."  My experience in Little Cottonwood on Sunday was more like something from the Pacific Northwest, but I didn't bother going out on Monday to see if the snow conditions had degraded further.  Evelyn Lees' Salt Lake Avalanche Advisory suggests that the ski conditions are currently something that only a seasoned New Hampshire skier could love:

"Our rain saturated snow-scape is something else…there are smooth, ice rink rain crusts at the upper elevations, with some surprisingly decent turns on lower angle slopes where an inch or so of graupel stuck onto the ice. But, sharpen your edges and glue in your dentures for the sections of wind scoured bare ice sheets and rough frozen crusts at the mid and low elevations – slides for life are a concern on the steep, icy slopes."

The good news is that we have an upper-level trough dropping into Utah late tonight and tomorrow and it should bring with it some of the white stuff.  This should be a colder storm, with 700 mb temperatures falling to below -8C and snow levels dropping to the valley floor.

It appears, however, that it will be a quick hitter, with 6-12 inches likely in the upper Cottonwoods based on the NAM forecast.  Let's hope Mother Nature is a bit more productive than that.  At least this should be a right side up snowfall.  Our automated snow water content algorithm suggests the storm will start at something like 10% water content, but decrease to something near 4%.


  1. As a "seasoned New Hampshire skier" I can say Monday was some of the worst conditions I have ever skied. Sure I didn't mind the "ice", but the ice was only a half inch think with soft wet snow underneath it. I broke through it nearly every turn, which would throw me over the tips of my skis. I would take new hampshire bullet proof any day over that.

  2. What is good for the shins is good for the spirit.