Monday, December 26, 2016

A Great Holiday Week Snowpack

Since the epic 2010/11 season, northern Utah skiers have suffered through some down seasons.  That has all changed, however, this season, as we have a wonderfully deep and freshened snowpack entering the big holiday week.

Data from the NRCS shows that every SNOTEL station in northern Utah but one (Chalk Creek in the western Uinta Mountains) presently sits at or above median snowpack.

Here are a few cherry-picked sites:

Snowbird: 16 inches of water equivalent (150% of official median)
Cascade Mountain: 8.6 inches (139%)
Farmington: 15.5 inches (141%)
Ben Lomond Peak: 19.8 inches (190%)
Rocky Basin Settlement, Oquirrh Mountains: 10.3 inches (147%)
Mining Fork, Stansbury Mountains: 8.1 inches (176%)

The plume diagram below shows the snowpack water equivalent trace at Snowbird for this year (blue line) compared to the median (magenta) and water years going back to 2011.  We are now just ahead of 2013 and well ahead of most of the rest.  The 2011 water year is etched in my brain as the gold standard for skiing and you can see why in the trace below.  Not only did we have a big early season snowpack, but we kept getting modest storms all season long.  Ideal for backcountry skiing.

I suspect that the population density in Wasangelas will be quite high today.  New snow in the mountains.  Big Christmas storm.  Blue bird.  Day after Christmas.  All signs point to a big day. When I took a quick look just before 10, Traffic at the bottom of the canyons was busy, but not heinous by Christmas week standards, but I suspect lots will be full.

Source: UDOT


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    1. Starting February 10th (how's that for precision) those south aspects "bake very quickly." Sun crusts can happen any time of year on south aspects. Sorry...

    2. One other quick thing. A lack of wind on Dec 26 likely contributed to light crusting. I wasn't out that day and it wasn't until I was reading the snow observations that I was alerted to the calm conditions.