Editor's Note: Special thanks to Jeff Massey for contributions to this post.
Today marks the 29th anniversary of one of the largest snowstorms to hit the Wasatch Front. It desperately needs a name, but to my knowledge one hasn't been coined, so we'll just call it that Great Storm of October 1984.
A brief analysis of the Great Storm was produced by David Carpenter and published in the journal Weather and Forecasting in 1993 (Carpenter 1993). David is now the meteorologist-in-charge at the Rapid City National Weather Service Forecast Office and recently made headlines for his office's dedication to public service when a huge blizzard hit western South Dakota during the federal government shutdown.
In the Salt Lake Valley, the Great Storm was a beast, producing 18 inches at the Salt Lake City airport, 27 inches inOlympus Cove, and 25 inches in Cottonwood Heights. The heaviest accumulation was along the east bench, whereas there were locations in the western and southern valley that received no snow.
|Storm total snowfall for 17–18 October 1984.|
Source: Carpenter (1993).
Carpenter estimated lake temperatures to be near 10ºC during the event. Temperatures of the Great Salt Lake tend to track very close to the 7-day running mean temperature at the airport. While I don't have access to lake-temperature data during this period (it might exist, but I'm being lazy), the week preceding the storm features temperatures near 68ºF (20ºC) on the 13th followed cooler weather. In the three days preceding the event, temperatures fluctuated from near 32ºF (0ºC) to about 50ºF (10ºC).
|KSLC Temperatures October 1984. Courtesy Jeff Massey.|
However, the event did feature the passage of an especially cold upper-level trough. As shown in the looop below, 500-mb temperatures dropped to near -30ºC after 0000 UTC 18 October when the lake-effect raged. At 700-mb, temperatures dropped to about -11ºC, which is not too shabby either.
|500-mb and 700-mb analyses for the Great Storm. Courtesy Jeff Massey.|