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Warning, advisories issued as large winter storm heads toward Utah

Cars drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Dec. 2. After a pair of small storms this week, a larger storm is expected to arrive in Utah on Saturday night and continue producing rain and snow at times through Tuesday morning.

Cars drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Dec. 2. After a pair of small storms this week, a larger storm is expected to arrive in Utah on Saturday night and continue producing rain and snow at times through Tuesday morning. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Another round of winter storms is coming Utah's way.

The National Weather Service says a storm that will "bring significant accumulating snow to the mountains" is forecast to arrive late Saturday, lingering into Tuesday morning before clearing up later that day. The agency updated alerts ahead of the storm Saturday afternoon, issuing a winter storm warning for high-elevation areas in southern Utah, a winter storm watch for other high-elevation areas and winter weather advisories for other parts of the state.

The weather service said it has the potential to deliver anywhere from 8 inches to 2 feet of snow in the mountains this weekend and into early next week.

Utah valley communities from are now expected to receive 2 to 6 inches of snow, from Logan to Cedar City. Some places may receive less or more than that estimate, though, according to weather service models updated Saturday afternoon.

A larger system arrives

The approaching storm comes on the heels of another storm that provided as much as 4 inches of snow at Powder Mountain Friday. The storm that arrived Wednesday also delivered as much as 4 inches of snow in mountains and valleys across the state, including Alta, Beaver, Enterprise, Herriman, Oakley and Snowbird Resort.

What's waiting in the wings is much larger. In fact, Utah's weather alerts join a slew of similar weather advisories and warnings all over the West this weekend.

KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson explained that Utah will experience its "warm before the storm" Saturday, though it will be cloudy across the state. It will also be windy; the weather service issued a wind advisory for most of western Utah that will remain in effect through Sunday night. Wind gusts of up to 55 mph are possible.

There are some rain and snow showers expected in the evening ahead of the rest of the storm that is expected to bring precipitation to the state on Sunday.

"(There's) lots of moisture associated with this," he said on Friday, noting that current weather models project that valley rain will switch over to snow Sunday afternoon. "And then the snow lingers into Monday morning. That's why we're concerned about Monday morning's commute, because of the overnight snow."

The strongest snow is now expected in the southern Wasatch and central mountains. These are may receive 1½ to 2 feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Other mountain areas are expected to receive between 8 inches and 16 inches of snow.

The Wasatch Back communities, such as Heber City, Huntsville and Park City, are forecast to receive anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow. Some valley communities may receive more than 6 inches; for instance, a weather model posted Saturday lists Salt Lake City as having close to a 50-50 probability of receiving as much as 8 inches of snow between 5 a.m. Sunday and 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"It looks like a juicy storm headed our way," Johnson said.

Travel impacts

The Utah Department of Transportation issued a weather outlook that lasts from noon Sunday and 3 p.m. Monday, including the Monday morning commute. Agency officials write that "moderate to heavy snow" will arrive along with a cold front in the afternoon and evening Sunday.

"Snow showers will continue behind the cold front into Monday afternoon across the Wasatch Front and I-15 corridor," they added. "The majority of the Wasatch Front and I-15 corridor will see road snow Sunday night with lingering road impacts into Monday. Most mountain routes including Parleys, the Cottonwoods, Skyline, Cedar Mountain/Brian Head Plateau, and the Uintas see heavy road snow Sunday night into Monday."

The highways and freeways most likely to be impacted include:

  • I-15: Utah-Idaho border to Black Ridge
  • I-70: Cove Fort through San Rafael Swell
  • I-80: West desert to Utah-Wyoming border
  • U.S. 6: Entire route
  • U.S. 40: Entire route
  • U.S. 89: Entire route
  • U.S. 189: Provo Canyon
  • U.S. 191: Utah-Wyoming border to Bluff
  • State Route 14: Entire route
  • State Route 31: Entire route
  • State Route 92: American Fork Canyon
  • State Route 190: Big Cottonwood Canyon
  • State Route 210: Little Cottonwood Canyon

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

Utah's snowpack at a glance

This weekend's storms will continue to pad onto the statewide snowpack. The state's snowpack, collectively, remains at 147% of normal for early December, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service data accessed Saturday afternoon.

The weather patterns over the past month have brought in much cooler weather in addition to the snow, though. The National Centers for Environmental Information, for example, released new data Thursday that confirmed that Utah experienced its 14th-coldest November on record since data was first collected in 1895, 5.4 degrees below the average of the past three decades.

The development comes after Utah had its second-warmest November in 2021. The role reversal helped the state retain its early snowpack during its mid-November lull in storm activity instead of dealing with early melting, which was the case last year.

Utah's snowpack is currently close to one-third of the way to its normal snow collection figure with 115 days left until the normal collection peak. About 95% of Utah's water supply comes from the snowpack collection and spring snowmelt process, meaning that a robust winter can chip away at the state's ongoing drought.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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