Utah’s snowpack reaches annual average — and more snow is forecast this week

Mar 11, 2024, 5:04 PM

A skier is seen at the Whitepine Trailhead in Alta on March 4. Utah's snowpack reached the state's ...

A skier is seen at the Whitepine Trailhead in Alta on March 4. Utah's snowpack reached the state's annual average last week and more snow is expected this week, with most of it coming on Tuesday. (Marielle Scott, Deseret News)

(Marielle Scott, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s snowpack reached the state’s annual average last week, and there’s more snow coming this week.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued winter weather advisories for Utah’s mountains ahead of a storm that’s forecast to deliver up to a foot of snow or more over the next few days.

Storm timing

A few passing snow showers are possible in Utah’s mountains, but the brunt of the precipitation is expected to begin on Tuesday, said KSL meteorologist Devan Masciulli.

A low-pressure system located in the Pacific Northwest will bring Utah a mix of valley rain and mountain snow as it arrives in the late morning and early afternoon. The showers are expected to begin in northwest Utah and trickle down to other parts of the state throughout the rest of the day, even reaching southern Utah.

Lingering showers are expected on Wednesday. Masciulli explains that valley rain may even turn to snow in some areas as temperatures drop from cold air behind the front.

She also points out that weather prediction models indicate the low-pressure system will nearly stall near the Four Corners region before jetting southwest, which will help keep scattered showers flowing in some parts of the state through Thursday and potentially even Friday.

“Rain and snow are going to linger for the eastern and southern parts for this time period,” she said, adding that strong canyon winds are possible by the end of the workweek if the storm system moves in that direction and creates easterly wind.

Accumulation projections

The weather service’s advisories are expected to remain through Wednesday afternoon. It states that 6 to 12 inches of snow is expected for the mountains across the state; however, the Cottonwood canyons within the Wasatch Mountains and the Tushar Range near Beaver may end up with totals closer to 15 to 18 inches.

“Winter driving conditions can be expected especially over passes and summits,” the agency wrote.

Higher mountain totals are possible when adding in the snow potential for Thursday and Friday.

Not as much snow is expect for lower-elevation areas. A few inches of snow is possible in places like Park City, but most valley communities may end up with a trace of snow or an inch, if anything, according to the weather service.

Masciulli said the storm could provide up to a quarter or a ½-inch of precipitation in areas across the state by Thursday afternoon. Even higher totals are possible in the Wasatch Mountains, as well as parts of eastern and south-central Utah.

Warmer and drier conditions are currently forecast to return to the Wasatch Front by the start of the weekend.

Adding to the snowpack

Utah’s average mountain snowpack reached 16 inches of snow water equivalent on Friday, matching the average snowpack collection for the past few days. That means anything more, such as this week’s storm, makes 2024 another above-average season.

State and federal experts noted last week that Utah’s “great” February put Utah’s supply in a “good position” for when the snowpack begins to melt, which happens around early April on average.

“With the historic 2023 winter barely in our rearview mirror, it’s outstanding to see this winter come through with above-normal conditions,” Jordan Clayton, a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, wrote in a report.

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

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Utah’s snowpack reaches annual average — and more snow is forecast this week