SALT LAKE CITY — The Friday snowstorm is expected to continue through Saturday morning, and meteorologists think the added snow could beat the record for the number of months Utah has snowpacked ground.
The Friday night storm could bring as much as 1 to 4 inches in the valleys and three to 7 inches on the benches, according to KSL Meteorologist Grant Weyman.
Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey supervisor Randy Julander was hopeful for as much as 2 feet of snow in the mountains from the Saturday storm.
The storm would have to be at least 2 feet to gain ground with the current mountain snowpack.
Julander said that the statewide average snowpack is currently at just 80 percent, and snowpack above Salt Lake City was possibly lower than that.
New research shows a connection between Utah's lake effect snow patterns and the mountain snow on each side of the Salt Lake Valley. Researchers have a goal of being able to predict exactly where lake effect snow will fall.
University of Utah professor, Jim Steenburgh, said that the mountains may ultimately be more important than the lake. He said they act as a funnel for moisture.
"It's not something just as simple as cold air flowing over a warm body of water," said professor, Jim Steenburgh. "If you took out Utah's major mountain ranges, we'd probably be as dry or dryer than Nevada."
His newly released study discusses the importance of the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountain Ranges in regard to lake effect snowfall and ground snowpack.
Getting to "normal" snowpack by the end of the water year would likely mean 150 percent of normal snowfall through April, Julander said. He gave that less than a 20 percent chance of happening.
Julander said a storm that drops 2 wet feet of snow in the mountains this time of year only boosts the snowpack average by about 5 percent.
However, it continues to be a different picture for the valleys. Julander said snowfall at Salt Lake City International Airport in January was roughly 200 percent of normal.
"The extreme cold that we've had has preserved the snowpack down here at these lower elevations much longer than it normally would," Julander said.
In fact, the current streak of consecutive days with measurable snow on the ground at the airport stands at 60. The National Weather Service posted on Twitter that the stretch was the fifth-longest all-time.
If measurable snow remains on the ground through next Friday, the streak would be the third-longest in the area's history.