Wasatch Back ski resorts expecting 1 to 3 feet of snow
The National Weather Service is predicting about a foot of snow across the Wasatch Back from Friday to Sunday. Upper elevations in the Wasatch Mountains could see 2 to 3 feet.
Updated 1:35 p.m., Dec. 1, 2023
Utah's snow is 39% below normal so far this year, but that's going to change this weekend.
It’s not getting snorkel deep out there yet, but northern Utah is scheduled for a solid dump.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Wasatch Back from 11 a.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday, saying heavy snow is expected.
The NWS has predicted 8 to 16 inches for parts of the Wasatch Back including Park City and Heber City. The Wasatch Mountains could see 1 to 3 feet of snow in upper elevations.
Winter driving conditions are expected with periods of road snow over Parleys Summit on Interstate 80, especially during the overnight and early morning hours.
Travel could be "very difficult" at times along U.S. 40, according to the NWS.
The storm is timed well for Deer Valley’s opening day Dec. 2. Parkites have seen the resort blowing snow for weeks now.
And Park City Mountain and Woodward have been open with mostly man-made snow for skiers and snowboarders.
According to atmospheric scientist Jim Steenburgh, aka the University of Utah's “Professor Powder,” resorts’ guns produce snow that’s between 20% and 28% water. That’s three times as dense as the snow at Alta.
Steenburgh says that’s great for durable runs that can handle a large number of skiers, but snow guns can’t produce powder.
“When you ski in areas that are all natural snowpack, it always seems like it's a little more pliable, a little easier to get an edge into than an artificial snowpack,” he said. “So it's a plus and minus situation.”
Recreationists in the Wasatch Back and Cottonwood Canyons can now look forward to softer skiing conditions.
But he says the future is uncertain for what Utahns lovingly refer to as "the greatest snow on earth."
“In many places, [snowmaking is] going to be the future of skiing,” Steenburgh said. “Climate change is having an impact on our natural snowfall and snowpack.”
There will also be a short-term benefit to this weekend’s storm; it should clear up lingering haze in the valleys. The Salt Lake valley’s air quality reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups this week.
The NWS says Friday’s air quality could improve to moderate in Salt Lake County, with Saturday’s air quality predicted to be out of dangerous territory.