Major Winter Storm headed for the Wasatch Range

Major Winter Storm headed for the Wasatch Range

It looks like all of our hopes and prayers for snow are about to be answered, starting tomorrow morning. Current weather models are forecasting a major winter storm to hit Northern Utah on Wednesday morning, as a wet Westerly flow enters the area. I found the MM5 snow accumulation forecast model to be particularly exciting, showing 40 inches to fall in the Wasatch Range between Wednesday morning and Thursday evening, and it looks to continue through the weekend! The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the area from Wednesday afternoon through Friday afternoon, containing the text: “STORM TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS OF 24 TO 36 INCHES … LOCALLY GREATER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE.” – click here for the complete text. Our friends over at have also released a forecasted snow total of 18-30″ for this week’s storm, with another 10-20″ over the weekend! This storm cycle appears to be the beginning of a major weather pattern change for our area, ushering in a series of storms, as the jetstream dips down and ‘opens the door’ for a major storm track.


MM5 Snow Accumulation Model 1.16.2012
The latest MM5 Snow Accumulation Model showing 40" to fall in the Wasatch Range from Wednesday morning to Thursday evening

This week’s storm cycle will likely be accompanied by our first major avalanche cycle of the season, as the wet, heavy snow begins to load our weak, thin snowpack. Please pay close attention to your local Avalanche Advisory, available on the Utah Avalanche Center website. They have already issued a preemptive Avalanche Watch for this week’s storm. Backcountry travel is not advised during this time. We would recommend everyone skiing or snowboarding during this time to use extreme caution, even if you will be riding at the ski resorts. Stick to marked trails, and observe all warnings. Be safe and have fun out there!

About Author

<p>Professional Outdoor Guide, specializing in backcountry skiing, heliskiing</p> <p>Stomping grounds: Wasatch Range, Andes Mountains</p>