A winter storm warning has been issued for Utah’s mountains, with “significant” snow expected.
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SALT LAKE CITY — The National Weather Service on Saturday upgraded a series of winter storm watches to winter storm warnings for several mountain ranges in Utah, where snowfall totals are expected this weekend.
The warning covers Utah’s Wasatch and West Uinta mountain ranges, as well as the state’s mountains in central and southwestern Utah, starting Saturday night in northern Utah. Meteorologists said the storm has the potential to deliver large amounts of snow in the mountains.
Scattered rain arrived in Utah earlier Saturday from a low pressure system arriving from California, which is expected to continue to dump rain intermittently throughout the day.
“This thing is going to collapse as it comes up,” KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank said. “It doesn’t have the oomph that (we) hope this one will have. … It spits and pops (Saturday).”
The warning is associated with a larger, colder storm coming from Alaska across the Pacific Northwest. Rainfall is expected to start increasing Sunday morning, bringing valley rain and mountain snow across the state.
National meteorologists have once again revised their forecast for snow accumulation with the new warning:
- The agency is now forecasting 6 to 12 inches of snow in areas within the Wasatch Mountains north of I-80 and west of the Uintas, though locally high totals could reach 18 inches near Ogden Canyon.
- Eight to 16 inches of snow is expected in the Wasatch Mountains south of I-80, with up to 2 feet of snow possible in the upper Cottonwood Valleys.
- 8 to 16 inches of snow is expected in the Central Mountains and Book Cliffs.
- Six to 12 inches of snow is expected in the southern mountains, though 15 inches of snow is possible near Brian Head and 20 inches in the upper Tushar Mountains.
The timing and location of these low pressure systems will likely determine which areas get the most snow, KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson said Friday. All variables depend on where the second low pressure system lands.
The KSL weather model updated Friday evening forecast that many parts of the Wasatch Front will receive a half to three-quarters of an inch of rain over the weekend, with most of it falling Sunday. Some models suggest the weather could get cold enough to become a mix of rain and snow in the valleys Sunday evening, Eubank said.
Most other parts of the state are also gearing up to receive good rainfall this weekend. Both systems are expected to be cleared by Monday morning, when the last warnings expire.
All warnings expire by early Monday when the storm ends.
Road and other effects
The weather service says drivers should plan for slick roads and winter driving conditions on mountain roads. Traction restrictions are possible, if not likely, for many mountain passes like Cottonwood Canyons, especially on Sundays.
“Slow down and allow more time to reach your destination,” the agency wrote.
The Utah Department of Transportation issued a road weather alert ahead of the second system, advising to expect “widespread mountain snow,” while “some small roads descend into benches along the Wasatch Front.”
“The greatest impact of this system will be heavy snowfall on elevated roads across northern Utah,” the agency wrote.
According to UDOT, these are the roads most likely to be affected:
- I-15: Fort Cove
- I-70: Fort Cove to Sevier, also Salina Peak
- I-80: Parleys Summit and Wasatch Hill areas
- US 6: Spanish Fork Valley to Assistant
- US 40: Silver Creek junction through Daniel Valley
- US 89: Utah-Idaho border to Logan Canyon, also Sardine Canyon area; Forks to Indianola
- United States 189
- US 191: Utah-Wyoming border across the summit of US 191; Indian Valley Summit to US 6 Junction
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This weekend’s storm comes on the heels of a smaller storm that passed through the state on Thursday, dropping a few inches of snow in Utah’s mountains.
Both are something Utah skiers and snowboarders may be thankful for before Thanksgiving. Most ski resorts in Utah are waiting for snow to start the next ski season or expand their operations. Only four of Utah’s 15 resorts are open right now.
Another storm could head toward Utah by Thanksgiving, Eubank said.
The complete seven-day weather forecast for areas across Utah can be found online at the KSL Weather Center.
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