Utah is famous for doing an about-turn on its weather and Thursday showed it yet again.
“We’re in for a pretty severe cold snap and whiplash,” said Christine Kruse, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
On Wednesday, northern Utah enjoyed temperatures in the 70s. Thursday, the highs will hover in the 40s, representing a drop of 30 degrees.
“So it is a pretty wild temperature swing, but you know, it’s not unusual we’re getting into the late fall for northern Utah,” she added.
The front dusted snow on the upper benches in some areas of Salt Lake City, and even showed up with a trace at the National Weather Service near the Salt Lake International Airport.
Most of the valley areas, however, witnessed rains and wind.
The mountains saw plenty of the white stuff. Kruse said Alta, Deer Valley and Snowbasin all had about 7 inches of snow.
Mountain snow is coming! A Pacific Northwest storm system will move through northern Utah early Thursday through Thursday afternoon, bringing 5-10" to most northern UT mountains. This will result in travel difficulties for high elevation routes. Here's our latest forecast. #utwx pic.twitter.com/QXmNsUduRi— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) October 25, 2023
The storm bolsters what has been a welcoming beginning to the water year, which officially got underway Oct. 1.
Kruse said even before this storm, October sat at 1.4 inches of precipitation.
“That is about an half an inch above normal precipitation,” she said. “So we are well above average. We will have to see how this sets up.”
That is good news for Utah, which, with the exception of last year, has suffered through a tremendously horrific drought, as has much of the rest of the western United States.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says the majority of Utah remains drought-free, with a few exceptions on the eastern border with Colorado that are in “moderate” drought and southeastern Utah, which remains abnormally dry.
Kruse said the southern portion of the state remains slightly below normal in precipitation, but the water year is just beginning and that could change.
What is good about what has happened so far in October and with an active monsoon season is that soil moisture is in good shape. The soils are wet enough to — at least at this point — allow for a healthy spring runoff to help fill reservoirs, which supply culinary and secondary water.
“We’re going into our snowpack with well above normal soil moisture, meaning that whatever snowpack we do get will be more efficient in the spring, which is a big positive for us,” she said.
While this cold front is a shock to the system, Kruse warned it is a call to winterize.
Temperatures will dip into the 20s overnight at least through midweek.
“If people haven’t winterized their sprinklers and their RVs, swamp coolers and their boats — even though it’s somewhat unpleasant outside getting that done today will help to avoid property damage.”
She added that people should disconnect their hoses to avoid damage, as well as above ground sprinkler systems, “so that you’re not walking down your street and seeing water pouring out of people’s sprinklers when we get to Sunday morning.”