Winter to Start in LCC on Saturday (Updated)

By:  Lionel Hutz
October 22, 2010 1:06 pm | Category: Skiing, Weather

As you know, i’m Bi. No…not like that…settle down there all you bears….I’m a bi-forecaster. As much as I love tracking and predicting the Northeast’s amazing weather and super storms, I also have a fondness for the sheer weather insanity that is Little Cottonwood Canyon. To be blunt with you, from my analysis of the weather patterns and geography, NOWHERE in the continental U.S. is a better, more consistent snow producer than that damn box canyon. (Maybe parts of Alaska compare but that’s a maritime snow pack so we can debate). The dynamics of LCC are not repeated anywhere else. If you disagree, feel free to comment below but I warn you- you better bring the ammo with you.

So with that said, I love watching and discussing the weather in Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyon. While it’s a little harder to nail down than the weather on E.C. I nevertheless love to write about it, and starting on Saturday the little canyon that could will give us something to talk about. Tittyballs!

So going to keep this simple- Over the next 4-6 days several moist and cold systems will travel across Utah. The first will primarily affect southern utah and southern colorado. The next – starting late friday and into saturday will affect northern utah. This system will derive from several ejected parcels of energy ejected out of a large pacific storm impacting the nw. With the region of max vorticity passing just south of the great salt lake and the favorable left exit region of the jet stream posititioned over the same region upper level divergence will be rather high. Surface convergance and uplifting will be likely. Accordingly we should see precipitation from this system in the moist environment. Coupled with the orographic enhancement due the W-N/W flow precipitation should reach the moderate stage.
Amounts could range as high as 12 inches my mid sunday morning above about 2600 meters (yea…I went metric. All the cool kids are doing it…just get used to it). However there might be some dry air near the suface that works its way in and so we might lose a bit as it evaporates in the lower levels. A safer bet would be in the 6-9 inch range with pockets of 12.

The larger event could come monday early morning. A strong and moist cold front will crash down from the NW. A view of the alta forecast soundings shows rather deep layer moisture and a NW flow. While atmospheric lapse rates aren’t really outstanding steady precip is most certainly possibly as upper level divergence and orographic lift should provide enough support. Totals are tricky. I’d go with a quicky burst of 5-8 inches overnight with another 1-2 as monday dawns and we move into the afternoon.


Looking at the latest data I think this “larger” event will focus the heaviest snow early monday morning. From 6z to about 14-16z (which is midnight sunday to 10am mountain time) I believe the crashing front and strong moisture aloft and strong NW flow should result in a quite intense period of snowfall. I would not be surprised to see close to foot piling up in this period. Overall I think the second event goes into the 1-2 foot range with a few NW facing slopes catching slightly more….but not much….I’d really like to see the instability last a little longer. Also temperatures in the dendritic growth region will not start out that great. This means the flakes will not develop that huge volume and consequently pack tighter on the ground. Regardless…winter will get started this weekend and I’m sure there will be some stuff to ski come tuesday/wednesday.

As we get into the event make sure to check back here and follow my updates via twitter and FISWX.

If you want to checkout the other thing we do best besides weather (which is schussing) see what our Vermont Bureau was up to on Mount Mansfield (Stowe).

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  1. Dwyer
    wrote on October 22nd, 2010 at 1:29 pm  
  2. Porter Haney
    wrote on October 22nd, 2010 at 2:54 pm  

    ROCK ON, L_H

    We’ve got the fall sticks waxed and ready. Can’t wait to crack into the 10/11 season.

  3. Brett Briggs
    wrote on October 22nd, 2010 at 3:25 pm  

    This has me super excited guys!

  4. powhounddd
    wrote on October 22nd, 2010 at 10:37 pm  
  5. David Howland
    wrote on October 23rd, 2010 at 11:11 pm  

    We’re in line for some snow in Bozeman here this week, too. Finally winter is getting started!

  6. Dwyer
    wrote on October 24th, 2010 at 5:26 pm  

    Consider that snow schussed!

  7. Snafu
    wrote on October 25th, 2010 at 11:09 am  

    Mixing your measurements…almost as bad as mixed metaphors – If you are going to follow what all the cool kids are doing then we must have our snow depths in metric as well;)

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