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Utah forecast: A brief break from the storms, and then more snow

Published February 10, 2014 7:16 am

Weather • Avalanche danger elevated statewide due to fresh snow.
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Northern and central Utah looked for a brief break from heavy mountain snows and valley rains after nearly a week of wintry weather that began to put a dent, albeit a small one, in the drought afflicting the region.

A Winter Storm Warning covering the Wasatch Mountains south of Interstate 80 along with the Wasatch Plateau and Uintas was allowed to expire several hours early late Monday morning after snowfall abated, ushering in an end to storms that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in the mountains and a mix of rain and light snow on the benches and valley floors.

The storms, which stretched from last Thursday through Monday morning, dumped 48 inches of new snow at the crest of Brighton Ski Resort, while Sundance recorded 46, Solitude 45, Powder Mountain 37, and Snowbasin at the mid,bowl and Alta 30 inches each. Logan had nearly 13 inches and Garland 8, according to the National Weather Service.

Larry Dunn, chief meteorologist at the NWS Salt Lake City bureau, said that while it was too early to term the precipitation as significantly reducing the region's ongoing drought conditions, the snow and rain did "help a lot in some areas."

Specifically, the Bear River drainage, and parts of the Ogden and Weber drainages, as well as the headwaters of the Provo, had water accumulation "numbers that look pretty good as of Feb. 10," Dunn said.

"Outside those areas, though, the storms didn't make a whole lot of difference for central and southern Utah. The [snow and rain] were heaviest in the north," he added.

Utah's snowpack as of Feb. 1 was 75 percent of normal, compared to 92 percent of normal last year on the same date. On Monday, the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center's online snow conditions map generally showed the northern Utah mountains and drainages at 75-90 percent of normal for Feb. 10.

Dunn said that as of Monday, a relative handful of northern mountain locales were near or at normal water levels in preliminary data, with Logan Canyon's Tony Grove area above its median for this time of year: 24.8 inches, compared to 22.1 inches — or about 112 percent of normal.

With that precipitation came danger. The Utah Avalanche Center warned that the recent storms still had elevated the risk for potentially deadly backcountry snowslides to "extreme" in the mountains above Logan and the Uintas; "high" in the Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo and Skyline districts; and "considerable" in the ranges above Moab.

Indeed, both Logan Canyon and Highway 92 into American Fork Canyon remained closed until mid-Monday morning due to avalanche hazards after a weekend in which two winter sports enthusiasts died of injuries sustained in slides.

Tuesday was to be drier with morning fog and clearing skies in the afternoon. High temperatures were to range into the upper 40s in the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys. However, with Wednesday the wintry cycle was to resume with fresh snow and rain and a 10-degree dip in the temperatures.

Southern Utahns escaped the storms with highs Tuesday around 60 degrees, the same as expected Monday, under partly cloudy skies. The same forecast was in place for Wednesday when Utah Dixie's northern cousins returned to winter weather.

The Utah Division of Air Quality rated the entire state at "green," or healthy for breathability.

For more extensive forecast information visit the Tribune's weather page at http://www.sltrib.com/weather.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims