Snowpack water equivalent (i.e., the amount of water in the snowpack) is above median at most SNOTEL sites. The few sites that are below median are barely below median. In the central Wasatch, Snowbird, Brighton, Mill D North, and Thaynes Canyon are at 138%, 119%, 122%, and 110% of median. In the northern Wasatch, Ben Lomond Trail and Ben Lomond Peak are at 127% and 117% of median.
Although these snowpack numbers are very healthy, you might be surprised to learn that snowfall is below average at Alta Guard. As reported by the Utah Avalanche Center in their Jan 2 forecast, Alta Guard recorded 149" of snow in November and December, compared to an average of 162". How can we explain this paradox?
Simply put, while the depth of new snow has been below average, the water content of that snow has been above average. As a result, we got a lot of bang for the buck in terms of cover and I would argue ski quality.
Many people love blower pow, but I'm not one of them. My impression of the skiing the past few weeks is that we've had a lot of right-side up snowfalls with somewhat higher density mean water content. In my view, that makes for great skiing. Yesterday was the first day that I was out ski touring and the snow felt a little upside down because we had higher density snow fall on top of some lower density snow from previous days (resort skiers probably didn't notice this as much as that lower density snow was tracked thoroughly before the New Years storm). Even then, the skiing was still good.
Please note that all of this has happened while I was in town. Is the Steenburgh Effect is a myth borne from small sample size and confirmation bias? Only time will tell.