Thursday, March 15, 2018

After the Deluge...

Storms have produced some impressive precipitation amounts (water equivalent) for March from yesterday afternoon through this morning.  Some totals through 7-8 AM or so this morning include .78" at the Salt Lake City Airport, just over an inch in Olympus Cove, 1.25" at Spruces, and 1.54" at Alta Collins.  

Sadly, much of that water fell as liquid in the lower to middle elevations.  For example, 0.68 of the 1.54" that fell at Alta Collins fell at temperatures at or above 32ºF.  During that period, snow levels were initially at almost 9000 feet and lowered to about 8000 feet.  They have since dropped to the valley floor and as of about 8 AM, it is snowing at the University of Utah.

At Alta Collins, the automated interval snow-depth sensor suggests about 10 inches of snowfall.  Initially, that snow was probably a mixture of graupel and white sludge, but densities dropped with snow levels overnight, so what is there should be right-side-up.   

Radar imagery shows that the precipitation feature currently producing snow on campus is swinging through and that we will probably see things letting up soon.  

Expect some snow and rain showers today, and maybe even some thunder.  Similarly, the mountains will see periods of snow and don't be surprised if you hear a clap of thunder there too.  It won't be as active as yesterday and thankfully it is much colder.  Hit and miss snow showers, including the band moving through presently, will produce perhaps another 3-5 inches at Alta-Collins through 5 PM.  

It will be interesting to hear how the snow holds up today now that we're into mid-March.  Sunbreaks are welcome in January, but can be caustic this time of year.  South aspects won't last long.  A real challenge for backcountry skiers as we head deeper into spring is that monsters continue to live in the basement on high-north aspects that preserve powder so well.  

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