Sunday, October 20, 2019

Morning Storm Update

The Alta High Rustler cam is looking quite wintery this morning.

Source: Alta Ski Area
This is technically, based on my 10 inch minimum requirement, the first deep powder day of the 2019/20 ski season.  As of 0800 MDT, Automated snow sensors at Alta-Collins show an increase of about 13 inches since yesterday afternoon, bringing the total snow depth to 18 inches (note that the snow depth sensor is reading 4 inches too high).

Source: MesoWest
Sadly, that's below my tolerance levels, so my plan is to sit this one out assuming something really exciting doesn't happen this morning.

Much of the water and snow came with the frontal system – the same one that created a deluge at Rice-Eccles Stadium.  If my math is right, Alta got about 0.92" of water and 9 inches of snow through 9 pm.  After that, post-frontal snow showers added some additional low density snow.  

Although there was some evidence of lake enhancement at times, a strong lake band never really got going.  The dominant signature overnight was one of orographic snow showers, not only over the Wasatch, but also over the Bear River Range near Logan.  This pattern continues this morning, as can be seen in the radar image below, although snowfall rates are tapering.  

Source: NCAR/RAL
All of this puts us into purgatory.  Upper elevation hiking is difficult due to the snow depth, but the snowpack is still fairly shallow for skiing.  I'm sure some people will get out on this, and the higher density snow received last week and during the frontal passage late yesterday and last night will at least be supportable.

Another major storm would be a came changer.  However, the NAEFS ensemble shows, after last night storms, just a couple of quick hitter small events over the next seven days.  

Let's hope one of those storms comes through bigger than advertised or that in the aggregate, the inches add up.  

A quick note that early snow can still pose an avalanche risk.  See the PSA below from the UAC.  A concern in the coming weeks, should we not continue to build a snowpack, would be that the snow facets, and we put new snow on top of it, leading to a monsters in the basemen scenario (just in time for Halloween).

1 comment:

  1. Skied Collins Gulch, it wasn't too bad. Winds made the snow pretty dense, so you basically floated on top, which helped to avoid hitting rocks. The trick is to not fall. Going slow on low angle grassy slopes is my strategy. Lots of people out having fun, maybe 50 cars in the Goldminers lot at peak around 2pm. Cute family skinning up Corksrew. Dad shortroping the 4 year old. Mom bringing up the rear keeping the 6 year old and the 8 year old moving. #winteriscoming