Alta Storm Causing Delays – 2 Day Timeline

Aaron Rice | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

The past 36 hours we have been experiencing very large storm. A moisture plume has been aimed straight off the Pacific Ocean and up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Here’s a quick timeline of the past couple days.

Saturday 12/20 @ 11am: Snow beings to fall, but is scattered and mostly light to moderate.

Saturday 12/20 @ 8pm: Snow rates drop off over the evening and temperatures rise a bit.

Sunday 12/21 @ 4am: Snow rates pick up, it is warm and the density is very high.

Sunday 12/21 @ 9:15am: We have received 6 inches of snow and lifts open on time.

Sunday 12/21 @ 10:30am: The skiing is really good. The snow is dense and it is definitely Gore-Tex weather. However due to avalanche danger and strong winds (60mph gust) none of the traverses are open.

Sunday 12/21 @ 11:30am: Fred’s Trees closes for an hour or so. Presumably due to increased avalanche danger. However it reopens later.

Sunday 12/21 @ 2pm: All Alta lifts (except Sunnyside) close for very strong winds (gusts to 80mph). 

Sunday 12/21 @ 8pm: The Canyon road closes

No Interlodge travel permitted
No Interlodge travel permitted

Sunday 12/21 @ 9pm: No Interlodge travel permitted.

Monday 12/22 @ 9am: Interlodge travel restrictions lifted. We have now received 22 inches of snow and nearly 4 inches of water weight. It is still snowing and blowing very hard.

Monday 12/22 @ 10:40am: As I write now, lifts are scheduled to open at 11am. However there are still lots of bombs going off and it is snowing heavily and very windy. I would not be surprised if opening was delayed a bit longer and when the lifts do start spinning, we cannot expect much terrain to be open. 

UPDATE Monday 12/22 @11:15am: Lifts are still closed for wind hold/ avalanche control. But people are physched to go ski!


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5 thoughts on “Alta Storm Causing Delays – 2 Day Timeline

    1. Hey Jesse,

      I would usually agree with you. The average snow density in Utah is about 8%, so 22 inches of snow would be less then 2 inches of water weight. However, in this case we are approaching densities of 20%. As of writing this it is still snowing hard and we have surpassed 4 inches of water (for perspective, at 8% that would be 48 inches of snow)

      in addition our snowpack prior to this storm was 28 inches of snow (and ~5 inches of water weight). So with the new snow we have more than doubled our snowpack. Any time there is a large percent increase in SWE (snow water equivalent) there will be big avalanche concerns.

      Another thing to note is that in Utah, patrol often uses small dynamite hand charges that are great for surface instabilities, whereas in maritime climates they use larger explosives that are more effective for denser snow, with deeper unstable layers.

      So, yes, 22 inches of powder in March is nothing we would think twice about in Alta, but this storm is a different beast.

    1. Hey Bob,

      It is still snowing and blowing up here as of 10pm. we have picked up another 3+ inches since lift close. We will have another road closure and interlodge tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. However, I think the storm will eventually end tonight, and I would expect a lot less disruption tomorrow morning.

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