Saturday, February 21, 2015

Large Snowfall Contrasts

Some large snowfall contrasts were observed last night in the Wasatch Range which are the result of the spotty nature of the precipitation and the relatively low density of the snow (~6% water content).  The latter allowed a relatively modest amount of snow-water equivalent to produce some fairly significant snowfall totals.

From about 0100–0600 MST (0800–1300 UTC) Alta-Collins picked up a quick 8 inches of snow.  During the same period, Snowbasin's Middle Bowl observing site got about 2 inches.  Ski area reports from this morning generally show totals of 9-12 inches in the upper Cottonwoods, 4-5 inches on the Park City side and around 2 inches at Snowbasin. Reports from the Cottonwoods might seem a bit uneven, and I suspect this may simply reflect when they took their observations this late last night or early this morning as that was a period of fairly rapid accumulation.

The radar loop below shows the spotty nature of the snowfall overnight and early this morning.  The Cottonwoods (southernmost red box) did especially well due to the persistent triggering of precipitation features over the Salt Lake Valley, which trained off into the central Wasatch.  If you watch the loop below, they were getting something for much of the period.  In contrast, at Snowbasin (northernmost red box), there's only a brief period where they are in the action, hence the lighter accumulations.

It's good to see things coming in a bit higher than expectations for once.  It will be interesting to hear how well this low-density fluff skis given what it is falling on.  Add a comment and let me know as my balky back is not permitting me to go up and sample today.


  1. The skiing today was really good—a pleasant surprise. Only about 3" at the trailhead with a legitimate 9-12" of light powder at elevation. It was still possible to touch the stout old bed surface but at the same time it was deep enough to float with a little more speed without worrying too much about clanking off something.

  2. you could find the bottom on the sunny aspects inbounds lcc but anything north-ish facing skied like a real winter storm!

  3. Accumulations at PCMR were modest, but some upper mountain trails and woods skied pretty soft. The good news was that the very light powder was eminently turnable.