Winter storm warning issued for Utah's mountains ahead of next system

Trees are coated in fresh snow in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday. Utah stands to receive yet more snow as an active pattern continues to generate storms that impact the drought-stricken West.

Trees are coated in fresh snow in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday. Utah stands to receive yet more snow as an active pattern continues to generate storms that impact the drought-stricken West. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah stands to receive even more snow as an active pattern continues to generate storms that impact the drought-stricken West.

The National Weather Service on Thursday morning issued a winter storm warning for Utah's mountainous areas, where accumulations of 6 to 15 inches or more of heavy snow are forecast for later in the day into Friday. It comes a day after the agency issued a winter storm watch for the mountain areas in southern Utah.

However, snow is likely in valley areas overnight, as well. The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for valley areas in the northern half of Utah that takes effect Thursday night and remains in place through late Friday morning.

Storm timing

The storm system is coming in from California, where heavy rain and snow are forecast for most of the Golden State again Thursday. The storm precipitation is expected to make its way into Utah in the afternoon, said KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson

It's expected to impact southwest Utah with a mix of rain in the valleys and snow in higher-elevation areas by about midday Thursday. The precipitation will pick up in central and northern Utah later in the afternoon, also providing valley rain and mountain snow into the evening. The valley rain is projected to turn into snow late Thursday night into Friday morning as a batch of cool air arrives.

"It could impact your Friday morning commute," Johnson said.

Some lingering showers may persist in some parts of the state Friday, but most of the storm is forecast to clear out by the valleys by the late afternoon.

Snow accumulations

The National Weather Service's warning notes that "heavy, wet snow" is expected again, which is good for the snowpack accumulation but may cause more of the same issues as a storm that impacted the state during the New Year's weekend, including slick roads, broken tree limbs and power outages.

The warning offers various estimates depending on the region for Thursday into Friday:

  • Ten to 15 inches of snow are projected for the Wasatch, West Uintas and central mountains, as well as the Wasatch Plateau and the Book Cliffs. It's possible that accumulations will reach 20 inches in parts of the upper Cottonwood Canyons and in the mountains near Ogden, as well.
  • Six to 12 inches of snow are projected for high-elevation areas in southern Utah, including Alton and Brian Head. Up to 18 inches of snow is possible by the Pine Valley Mountains.

The weather service's winter weather advisory adds that Wasatch Back communities are forecast to receive 3 to 6 inches of snow, while valley communities from Cache Valley through the Wasatch Front are projected to receive another 2 to 4 inches of snow.

KSL meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke advises that valley accumulations will ultimately be determined by when the rain transitions into the snow, so the totals could be lower if transitions late or higher if the rain switches over to snow earlier than expected.

"That's what happened with the last storm," she said.

One weather service model notes that Ogden, for example, now has a 33% probability of receiving at least 4 inches of snow, as of Thursday afternoon. The model also indicates that 1 to 4 inches of snow are possible in valley communities not included in the weather advisory.

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

Storm impacts

The Utah Department of Transportation issued a road weather alert ahead of the arriving storm. It advises that drivers should be prepared for snow on mountain routes from Thursday afternoon into Friday. Valley commutes will more likely be impacted Friday morning.

"Winter road impacts are expected for the Friday morning commute along the entire I-15 corridor, with the exception of the St. George area," the agency wrote. "The heavier valley snowfall will taper off through Friday morning, though a few snow showers are likely to linger into the afternoon, especially along the Wasatch Front, near Cove Fort and in the vicinity of taller mountains."

Meanwhile, the Utah Avalanche Center listed most of Utah's mountains as having "considerable" avalanche danger Thursday morning.


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Carter Williams is a reporter who covers general news, local government, outdoors, history and sports for


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