Winter 2020-21 will be unprecedented for Utah snowboarding. Several mountains, including Vail-owned Park City Mountain Resort, are requiring pass holders to make a reservation in advance.
As a result, it’s imperative to plan outings and anticipate storm totals.
Utah has a plethora of weather sites that help you track impending storms and get the goods, even if you do have to reserve your time on the mountain. Read on to learn more.
Michael Ruzek started this site after a surfer friend tipped him off to a buoy in Hawaii. Two weeks after the buoy tracked a significant swell, Utah would get clobbered with high storm totals. Thus, the Powder Buoy was born.
Ruzek will post on the Powder Buoy Facebook page when the swell gets high on the buoy. Here is a good example of his predictions from last March:
And from last February before COVID ended Utah snowboarding for the 2020 season:
His predictions will tip you off to big storms anywhere from a few days to two weeks out. It’s very important to note sometimes these storms split, fizzle, or don’t make it our way due to high pressure. Always, always check to see if Utah has a high pressure ridge after checking this forecast.
Wasatch Weather Weenies
University of Utah Atmospheric Sciences professor Jim Steenburgh does in-depth analysis of what’s going on with weather along the Wasatch Front. His site, the Wasatch Weather Weenies, isn’t strictly for Utah snowboarding and skiing.
It discusses a wide variety of crazy weather topics, including the September down canyon windstorm that toppled trees all over the Salt Lake valley and historic lows in rainfall during the spring, summer, and fall.
Steenburg also tweets out information about upcoming storms, issues with tracking, and other storm nerddom. If you’re looking for investigative reporting on Utah’s current and future weather, this is your guy.
Open Snow forecaster Evan Thayer releases a daily, or semi-daily forecast outlining what he’s seeing in current models. The forecast helps you determine where the storm flow is going, if there is a high pressure ridge preventing storms from moving in, what the temperature ranges will be, and which resorts are favored.
You can elect to receive emails about forecasted storms at the resorts you frequent, making notifications about powder days extremely convenient. The free forecasts are about 5 days out at most. You can also pay $19 a year to get information about storms 10 days out.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has weather stations in Brighton and Alta, providing accurate stats about storm totals in both locations. NOAA publishes 7-day forecasts with one liners.
While that’s a good, broad picture, the hourly forecast and satellite images are more helpful for day-of powder tracking. For example, you can watch the storm on the radar, see where it’s hitting, and adjust your plans accordingly.
University of Utah Weather Center
The brainchild of Jim Steenburgh, who also created Wasatch Weather Weenies, the University of Utah Weather Center tracks storms coming across most of the west. You can look for what’s coming into Northern Utah, the entire state of Utah, Colorado, Western Montana, Pacific Northwest, and the Sierra Nevada.
It shows 6-hour to 24-hour forecasts as well as the water content of the upcoming storm. An experimental section of the site focuses on the Great Salt Lake effect and its impact on snowstorms.
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