Winter returns to Utah this week to help state's slipping snowpack

Reality Chavez walks through the snow in the Liberty Wells neighborhood of Salt Lake City on Feb. 3. Salt Lake City hasn't received measurable snow since March 25 but that's forecast to change by the end of the week. However, Utah's mountains are forecast to receive most of the snow this week, beginning with a storm arriving Monday evening.

Reality Chavez walks through the snow in the Liberty Wells neighborhood of Salt Lake City on Feb. 3. Salt Lake City hasn't received measurable snow since March 25 but that's forecast to change by the end of the week. However, Utah's mountains are forecast to receive most of the snow this week, beginning with a storm arriving Monday evening. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's snowpack levels, which opened this water year with a remarkable start, have fallen to concerning levels well below average for the two-month mark.

Snowpack is the amount of water within the snow that falls in the state's mountains. It accounts for a vast majority of the water that ends up in reservoirs across Utah. The statewide snowpack entered Monday at just 31% of normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It had entered November at 262% of normal.

These graphs show the difference in Utah snowpack levels over the course of a month. On the left is Utah's snowpack levels on Nov. 1, when it was at 262% of normal. On the right is levels entering this week, which is 31% of normal statewide.
These graphs show the difference in Utah snowpack levels over the course of a month. On the left is Utah's snowpack levels on Nov. 1, when it was at 262% of normal. On the right is levels entering this week, which is 31% of normal statewide. (Photo: Natural Resources Conservation Service)

The sudden stoppage of snow has impacted the state's ski and snowboard resorts. Most have either delayed opening dates or have yet to open this season as a result of the sudden turn of fortune.

But there's good news on both fronts: Winter weather is coming back this week. A storm set to arrive in the state Monday afternoon appears to be just the beginning; meteorologists with the National Weather Service say another, larger storm is waiting in the wings and should arrive by the end of the week.

Here's what to expect.

Let it snow

The impending winter weather is the result of a storm system moving in from the northwest. It is forecast to begin producing a mixture of rain of snow beginning late Monday afternoon and into the evening across the Wasatch region.

"Really the mountains get the brunt of the snow starting (Monday night) into (Tuesday)," said KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman. "Even though we'll start getting some snow this evening in Park City and the top of Parleys (Canyon), I don't think it be a real road concern just yet."

Utah's valleys are forecast to receive a trace of snow Monday into Tuesday while the northern mountains are expected to receive 3 to 6 inches of snow, and areas in the Wasatch backcountry are expected to receive 2 to 3 inches.

Another storm is forecast to arrive Thursday and linger into Friday, which is expected to have a larger impact — possibly the most impact since last winter. Weather service meteorologists say current models project the storm has the potential to provide 1 to 3 inches of snow in Utah's northern valleys and 10 to 16 inches of snow in the mountains.

In addition to the snow, the temperature is forecast to also get colder with the second storm. Temperatures across the Wasatch Front will drop from highs in the upper 40s and low 50s Monday through Wednesday to temperatures topping out in the low 30s Friday and Saturday. Lows are expected to fall into the teens by the weekend.

The storm is expected to impact all parts of the state, providing rain and snow even in southern Utah. The current forecast calls for rain and high temperatures falling from upper 50s and low 60s in St. George to temperatures topping out in the mid-40s by the end of the workweek.

A change of pace

The forecast presents a big turnaround for Utah's valleys that didn't receive really any snow from the October storms. There has only been a trace of snow in Salt Lake City since the 2022 water year began on Oct. 1, according to National Weather Service data.

The agency also tweeted that Nov. 7 is the average first day for measurable snow in the city during the new water year; it hasn't received measurable snow since March 25.

But snow recreation enthusiasts are perhaps the most excited for the arrival of more storms. Tyler Valovic, who was among the many people visiting Big Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday, told KSL-TV Sunday that he is thrilled about the upcoming forecast.

"I love skiing up in the mountains, so hopefully it snows a bunch," he said. "We need a lot of snow."

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

Contributing: Ladd Egan

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