Winter 2024 | Mid Season Check In

Winter 2024 | Mid Season Check In

Yeti

By Yeti \ March 4 2024

words by Evan Thayer | OpenSnow

STATS AT A GLANCE
Above average January
14.16” SWE for February at Alta Ski Area = 155” snow
125” Snow at Deer Valley Resort in February
Last year was the only season with more snow in the past 15 years through February

As we head into almost every ski season, I am always asked if we are going to have a good winter. I always answer with something along the lines of, “You’re guess is as good as mine.” It may not be a helpful response, but it’s an honest answer. Seasonal forecasting is difficult everywhere – in Utah it’s particularly tough due to a lack of correlation to global drivers of weather patterns like El Niño or La Nina. In most years, I go into the winter season hoping and praying just like everybody else.

This year, I had a new answer when asked, “Evan, what’s your prediction for snow this winter?”

“Probably not as good as last year.” Hey, it was a safe bet. After all, last winter we broke 70-year-old statewide snowfall records. Statistically, I felt confident saying we wouldn't see that much snow again.

Well, so far I’ve been right. We haven’t seen as much snow as last winter. However, it may come as a pleasant surprise that we aren’t that far off from last year, at least in a few places, through the end of February. In fact, we are far enough above average at this point that I’d be very surprised if we don’t finish above average. Knock on wood!

It hasn’t been all rosy this winter. We had a less-than-stellar start to the season in November and December. Utah has turned on the spigot since the second week of January. Strong storm cycles delivered an above-average month in January that caught us up to where we expected to be.

February has been even kinder to our snowpack. Alta Ski Area received more than 14” of snow-water equivalent during the month of February. This is enough water content for February 2024 to go down as the wettest in their history since extensive record-keeping began at the Alta-Collins site in 1980. All this water has also meant significant snowfall with Alta reporting 154.5” of new snow for the month. 


Elsewhere in Utah, significant snow also fell in January and February. Deer Valley has reported 125” of new snow. This set their record for most snow in the month of February.

 

Thanks to our prodigious snow this season, Utah now has four of the Top 5 snowiest resorts in North America so far this winter. Only Alyeska in Alaska has reported more snowfall than Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude. Just like last year, we are seeing Utah resorts dominating the overall snowfall lists across the continent.

As you would expect, all this record (or near-record) snowfall in February has led to a very healthy snowpack. We ended the month of February at or above normal for the date in almost every major river basin in Utah.

0301_snowpack_mappng

 

In fact, our statewide median snowpack was sitting at 116% at the start of March. 

0301_snowpack_graphpng

 

With additional storms impacting Utah during the first week or two of March, these numbers are only likely to grow. We are reaching the point in which we are nearly to the median seasonal peak snowpack numbers. Once we reach this point, we are guaranteed to have an above average snowfall season.

Considering March averages up to 100” of snow in Utah mountains, and April can also see significant snowfall, I would say we are virtually a lock to follow up last year’s record snowfall with another above-average winter. From this point on, anything else that falls from the heavens is just bonus powder! 

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