Heavy snowfall can affect access to ski areas

It can be difficult to get to the ski areas.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A major storm is headed for northern Utah, but most of the snow is expected to fall in the mountains.

A fair amount of snow is coming to Utah this weekend, but if you avoid the mountains and canyons, you’ll miss most of it.

Salt Lake City can reach 3 to 4 inches – but the mountains of northern Utah can reach 3 to 4 feet, and even more in some areas.

“And it won’t be the typical kind of light, fluffy powder,” said David Church, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. “It’s going to be more of the heavy, wet kind for the mountains.”

“That’s good for building up the water supply – which is a great thing for drought purposes,” he added.

Northern Utah is on a winter storm watch through 5 a.m. Monday with a 90-100% chance of precipitation. The prognosis calls for a “warm and wet system”.

“For the valleys, we don’t expect a big impact,” Church said. “The valleys will remain rainy all weekend.”

Saturday, in particular, will be fairly mild, Church said, with temperatures in the mid-40s in Salt Lake City. However, a cold front is expected on Sunday afternoon.

At this point, Salt Lake City could see about 1 to 4 inches of snow. There will be “quite a lot of snow” in the mountains, especially above 7,000 feet — “especially in the northern Wasatch and central Cottonwoods,” Church said.

How much is quite a bit of snow? For most mountains, that’s about 1-3 feet. But ski resorts in northern Utah can go a lot further, Church estimated: “30 inches on the low end, up to 54 inches on the high end.”

(That’s 4½ feet, by the way.)

If the forecast is correct, this weekend’s storm will be near the 90th percentile for rainfall — “even for this time of year,” which Church says is our “wet” time of year.

“If we’re going to get these events, we’re certainly going to get them now,” Church said. “Well, in terms of magnitude…it’s certainly in terms of the amounts of water up there.”

In the Salt Lake City area, December was already significantly snowier than usual. In an average year, the area gets 12.1 inches of snow in December; As of Thursday, the area had received 22.6 inches.

That’s just 1.1 inches more snow than December 2021, but 20.8 inches more than December 2020. And it’s the most snow Salt Lake City has seen in December since 2007.

This weekend, however, most of the snow and driving hazards are at higher elevations.

“There will be a difficult journey through the mountain routes,” Church said. “And for those trying to get to the ski resorts, know that with heavy snow rates it’s going to be quite difficult.”

He advised travelers to prepare in more ways than one:

“Make sure your vehicles are properly equipped,” he said, “and you have everything you need in case you get stuck — like warm blankets and food supplies.”

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/12/30/utah-weekend-forecast-mountains/ Heavy snowfall can affect access to ski areas

Justin Scacco

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