Warnings, advisories issued as ‘significant’ winter storms heads toward Utah

Dec 1, 2023, 6:40 AM | Updated: 7:12 am

Jordan Thorpe scrapes snow off his windshield after the first snow of the season in the valley in S...

Jordan Thorpe scrapes snow off his windshield after the first snow of the season in the valley in Salt Lake City on Nov. 24 (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News) 24

(Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal forecasters issued a series of winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories across Utah on Thursday, ahead of a “significant” winter storm with the potential to dump more than 2 feet of snow in the mountains this weekend.

The Wasatch Mountains and Wasatch Back communities are expected to receive the brunt of the snow, but northern Utah and Wasatch Front communities may also receive several inches of snow over the next few days, according to the National Weather Service.

“The snow in our mountaintops will be almost incessant. There are small windows of time where we (won’t) see it,” says KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson.

Utah’s air quality is also expected to improve as the storm arrives, breaking up an ongoing inversion event.

Storm timing

Light snowfall is possible Friday morning and afternoon ahead of a low-pressure system moving into Utah from the Pacific Northwest, but Johnson said the real “first wave” of snow will likely be Friday evening as the system arrives.

This will be the first of a few low-pressure events over the next few days. The storm’s second and third waves are expected to arrive on Saturday and Sunday, Johnson said.

While the Wasatch Mountains will receive almost nonstop snow over the weekend, he adds there will be more “windows of periods of snow” in the valleys, which are more likely to occur on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as on Sunday.

“It’s not going to be consistent in the valleys,” he said.

Snow accumulation potential

The National Weather Service’s winter storm warning is for all areas of the Wasatch Mountains and Wasatch Back, including Alta, Brighton, Heber City, Huntsville, Mantua and Park City. It notes that 20 to 30 inches of snow are forecast for the mountain areas between late Friday morning through early Monday, while 8 to 20 inches of snow are possible for the Wasatch Back between Friday morning and Sunday evening.

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are also forecast for the mountain areas this weekend on top of the heavy snow.

The agency also issued a handful of winter weather advisories that will go into effect Friday morning. Most will last through Sunday morning. Those state that:

  • 10 to 20 inches of snow are forecast for the West Uintas.
  • 6 to 12 inches of snow are forecast for the Wasatch Plateau/Book Cliffs and central mountains.
  • 4 to 8 inches of snow are forecast for Davis and Weber counties, as well as communities north of the Wasatch Front. Higher amounts are possible in bench areas.
  • 1 to 3 inches of snow are forecast for the valley floors in Salt Lake and Utah counties, with 3 to 5 inches for the benches.

Storm impact

The National Weather Service advises drivers to slow down and use caution while driving this weekend, especially while traveling through any mountain passes like Logan Summit, Parleys Summit or the Cottonwood Canyons.

The Utah Department of Transportation also issued a road weather alert for the first half of the storm activity. It warns that snow may begin to stick to valley roads beginning Friday evening, but it projects the heaviest impacts to be in the mountains.

“A few of the higher summits in northern and central Utah may see 1 inch per hour rates at times, which will result in periods of heavy road snow,” the agency wrote. “When it comes to this entire event, look for 1 to 2 feet of snow over the mountains by Monday morning.”

The storm is expected to be completely cleared out of the state by early Monday.

Full seven-day forecasts for areas across Utah can be found online, at the KSL Weather Center.

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Warnings, advisories issued as ‘significant’ winter storms heads toward Utah