SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Happy President’s Day, Utah! Today will be a relatively calm day before a major winter storm arrives Tuesday into Wednesday.
As for today, we’ll see mostly cloudy skies in northern Utah as a weak system brushes by. This weak system will bring a slight chance for mainly light snow showers in the high country with the best chance happening early in the day. If we do see any wet weather, it’s not expected to be anything significant.
The further south you go today, the more sunshine you’ll see. South of I-70 skies will be mostly sunny to partly cloudy with some pretty comfortable temperatures. Highs in southern Utah will mainly range in the 40s and 50s as St. George climbs into the low 60s. In northern Utah even with the clouds, highs will range mainly in the 30s while the Wasatch Front sees mostly low to mid 40s which is very seasonal.
Into tonight, we’re expecting to see mostly calm skies, but we’re in store for very big changes as we move throughout Tuesday. By daybreak, a strong winter storm will start to move in from our northwest. Early on we’ll have a chance to see showers near the Utah/Idaho line, but wet weather will move south from the morning into the afternoon. By midday, we could see valley rain and mountain snow for most of northern Utah including the Wasatch Front, but as the cold front moves in, any rain is likely to transition to straight snow by the evening. As we go from Tuesday evening into Tuesday night wet weather will continue to move south as the cold front works south.
This system coming in will have the potential to be one of if not the strongest systems we will have seen so far this season. At this point, snow accumulations are looking healthy, and we’ll also see some very strong winds ahead of this system, especially in southern Utah whereby tomorrow into Wednesday multiple high wind warnings & watches will go into effect as we could see gusts as high as 65-70mph!
The Beehive State is covered in Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Watches, and Winter Weather Advisories due to the storm arriving tomorrow. We’ll start with the winter storm warnings that will be going into effect.
The first warning to go into effect will begin tonight at 11 p.m. and will continue through 2 a.m. on Thursday. This is for the Wasatch Mountains north of I-80. During the duration of this warning, 2-3 ft. of snow is expected, but we could see isolated higher totals in the Bear River Range and Ogden Area Mountains.
From 11 a.m. Tuesday through 11 p.m. Wednesday a Winter Storm Warning will be in effect for Eastern Box Elder County, Cache Valley, and Bear Lake & the Bear River Valley. During the duration of the warning, 4-8″ is expected for valley floors, up to 12″ for the benches, and 6-12″ is expected for Bear Lake and Bear River Valley.
From 2 p.m. Tuesday through 5 a.m. Thursday a Winter Storm Warning will be in effect for the Wasatch Mountains south of I-80, the western Uintas, and the Wasatch Back. For the mountains within this warning, 2-3 ft. of snow is expected with local up to 40″ for the Upper Cottonwoods. For the Wasatch Back 1-2 ft. of snow will be possible.
From 5 p.m. Tuesday through 11 p.m. Wednesday Winter Storm Warnings will be in effect for the Wasatch Plateau/Book Cliffs, the Central Mountains, the entire Wasatch Front, Tooele & Rush Valleys, and southwestern Wyoming. 1-2 ft. of snow is expected during these warnings for the Wasatch Plateau and Book Cliffs and Central Mountains. For the Wasatch Front and other valleys within this warning, 6-12″ is expected with up to 15″ possible for the benches.
Starting at 11 p.m. Tuesday through 11 p.m. Wednesday a Winter Storm Warning will be in effect for the southern mountains where 10-18″ of snow is expected. We also could see wind gusts as high as 75 mph. During that same time frame, a Winter Storm Warning will be in effect for the western Uinta Basin, Millard and Juab Counties, and the Sanpete Valley. Within these areas, 4-10″ of snow is expected.
The final Winter Storm Warning is for southwestern Utah. This will begin at 2 a.m. Wednesday and will continue through 11 p.m. Wednesday. 4-8″ of snow is expected and gusts as high as 60mph will be possible.
In Utah, we also have 2 winter weather advisories that will go into effect tomorrow. The first is for Castle Country, which will run from 5 p.m. Tuesday through 5 p.m. Wednesday. 2-5″ of snow is expected. The second is for the Great Salt Lake Desert and Mountains that will go from 11 a.m. Tuesday through 8 p.m. Wednesday. 2-6″ of snow is expected.
In eastern Utah, multiple Winter Storm Watches will go into effect tomorrow and will continue through Wednesday night. These areas include the Eastern Uinta Basin, the Eastern Uinta Mountains, and east central and southeast Utah. Within the eastern Uinta Basin, 6-12″ of snow will be possible while 10-20″ will be possible for other areas within the Watches.
We are now getting to the point where most high-resolution forecast models can see the duration of this storm. At this point it looks like our northern valleys will see 6-12″, benches 8-14″, mountain valleys 10-20″, northern mountains 12-36″, the Cottonwoods 24-40″, Central and Southern Valleys 5-10″, Central and Southern Mountains 12-24″, and St. George could see straight rain while up to 3″ of snow can’t be ruled out. As we continue to get in new batches of data, we’ll continue to fine-tune this forecast so make sure you stay tuned.
Either way, significant snow totals are expected with this storm. UDOT has issued a road weather alert starting tomorrow and will continue through Wednesday night. High travel impacts are expected along almost the entire I-15 corridor while just about all of the state could see moderate impacts which include times of road slush. In northern Utah, the worst travel times will likely be for the Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning commute while the worst times down south will be throughout Wednesday. If you have to be out on the roads during these times, plan ahead as travel could become treacherous and in the high country could become impossible.
By Wednesday night snow will likely begin to ease across the state, but any calm is likely to be short-lived as another system is expected to move in by Friday with maybe another system arriving by early next week. Temperatures by Wednesday will also drop to below seasonal averages with most being about 10-20 degrees colder than today. Temperatures will slowly moderate by the weekend, but we’ll likely stay a bit below average as the pattern looks to remain active.
The takeaway? A relatively calm and seasonal day today ahead of a STRONG winter storm Tuesday into Wednesday.