Snow incoming: Storms mean Utah’s ski season is far from over

Pair of storms could bring nearly 5 feet of snow to the mountains, most of it falling over the weekends

Heavy snow blankets skiers as they ride the gondola from the parking lot to the base of the mountain at Canyons Village ski area in Park City, Utah, on March 14, 2016. To close out March this year, close to 5 feet of snow could fall on Utah ski areas over the next 10 days, according to several forecasters. (Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)

It looked like spring. It felt like spring. Indeed, this week it actually became spring.

Yet just when the warm weather and daffodils seemed like they were here to stay, Nature will pull the green rug out from under some Utahns, or at least cover it in white. Up to 56 inches of fresh powder is forecast to fall in Utah’s mountains through next weekend.

It won’t be a blizzard, according to Mike Seaman, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Salt Lake City bureau, but it could be a nice blanket.

Seaman said he’s seeing “a cool and unstable spring pattern with several chances of accumulating snow throughout the week.

“So yeah, just basically freshen it up and add to our snowpack.”

To likely many skiers and snowboarders’ delight, the majority of the snow is expected to fall on the weekends.

Alta Ski Area and Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon could see 25-56 inches, according to OpenSnow.com. Some 6-12 inches will fall this weekend and another 14-29 inches are predicted for next Thursday through Sunday. Seaman said the NWS is expecting between 30-40 inches in the next 10 days.

Brian Head, the state’s southernmost ski area, is forecast to take the brunt of the second storm. Though it’s still a long-term forecast, OpenSnow.com reports between 7-13 inches could come down there March 30.

Most of that precipitation will fall as rain in the Salt Lake Valley, though. Seaman said some snow could be on the ground Sunday, especially in the bench area and at elevations above 6,000 feet.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A magic carpet transports young new skiers up the hill at Nordic Valley Ski Resort in Weber County on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. The ski area, which has the lowest base in Utah at under 6,000 feet, anticipates closing Sunday. It won't get more than 4 inches of snow this weekend, according to OpenSnow.com.

While arguably any snow is good snow for Utah’s ski resorts and their patrons, they probably won’t enjoy the dry snow typically associated with Utah’s “Greatest Snow on Earth” slogan. Seaman said the warmer spring temperatures allow the air mass to carry more moisture. In turn, that leads to denser snow, which is harder to ski in but better for the state’s water tables.

“We’re going to be freshening up the snowpack and adding into that water supply,” Seaman said. “And even though we’re getting into warmer temperatures and spring, we’re still gonna see periods of winter driving conditions, especially up in the Cottonwood Canyons.”

The bounty from these storms likely won’t be the last spoils before some resorts shut down their lifts, though. Six of Utah’s 15 ski areas are expected to close for the season after April 7. Yet Seaman said it appears more storms will pass over the mountains in the beginning of April.