SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Earlier this week, snow fell on Utah’s higher terrain with both Snowbird and Solitude Mountain Resort sharing photos and videos of snow. The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City even showcased snow covering Bald Mountain Pass in the High Uintahs.
Is this early September snow a foreboding sign that Utah is due for another potentially record-breaking year of heavy snow and winter storms? Not necessarily.
The winter season is still too far out to accurately predict. Utah could see a dry winter such as the winter of 2019-20 or it could be another wet winter such as the one in 2022-23. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), however, has reason to believe it will be another dry season – at least, for the Wasatch Front.
In August, the NOAA said a “strong El Niño event” will likely last through the winter and into the next year. This means the southern third to half of the United States will see a wetter winter while the northern half of the country will trend drier and warmer.
What does this mean for Utah which sits along the center line of the country? Unfortunately, it’s hard to say. Where exactly the dividing line falls for El Niño varies from year to year. NOAA’s long-range forecast for the meteorological winter seems to indicate that Utah will be right on that dividing line, though slightly favoring warmer temperatures.
The Beehive State falls just below the line which indicates a slightly higher chance for above-average seasonal temperatures. Meanwhile, the precipitation outlook indicates Utah has equal chances for above-average, below-average and average wet weather.
Of course, long-range forecasts are fickle and subject to change as the season draws closer.
ABC4 Meteorologist Thomas Geboy explained it’s not uncommon for the higher elevations to see snow as they did on Labor Day.
“If it’s 50 or 60 degrees down in the valley, it’s cold enough at 10,000 to 11,000 feet for snow,” said Geboy.
In a typical winter, the Salt Lake Valley will start seeing snow near the end of October and the beginning of November. Summer lovers still have some time to enjoy the outdoors before snow sets in and snowbirds may have to wait a little longer before hitting the slopes.