The storm that hit Utah this weekend spread its tendrils statewide, but was particularly generous with the Wasatch Mountains, delivering 25 inches of snow to Alta at last measurement.

That amount of precipitation eclipses the monthly average for that area, 24.4 inches, and more snow is on the way Tuesday and Wednesday, with the potential to add close to a foot to the overall total at Alta.

Hayden Mayhan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, worked over the weekend monitoring the conditions across the state, which also included lake effect snow that dumped 7 inches on the Tooele and Erda areas and blanketed the bench areas of places like West Jordan.

What does the storm mean for Utah’s drought?

Mayhan said snow means the water year is off to a good start, but Utah needs to see storms like this every week or two to make a dent in the state’s shriveling water supply in light of the horrific 23-year drought.

“All watersheds are above normal for precipitation at the start of the water year,” Mayhan said, cautioning that could change quickly if the weather hits a dry spell.

“If we get flatlined, the health of those watersheds could start to go below average fairly quickly.”

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Water runs off in Little Cottonwood Canyon at approximately the 6,250-foot in elevation on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. The elevation reading was taken from a GPS watch. | Ben B. Braun, Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

The agency posted precipitation totals for Utah on its website for residents curious about the impact of the weekend storm.

Mayhan added that the north facing slopes of the mountains would likely be enjoying the official start of the snowpack accumulation season at elevations above 8,500 feet.

“This snow could be the start of the snowpack if it sticks around,” because it may stay cold enough to keep the storage intact, he said.

How is the storm impacting other states?

The Pacific storm is providing areas in the Northwest with generous amounts of rain, and Denver got its first taste of snow this season, according to a report by 9News.

An abrupt change is the weather is also hitting the Southeast, with warnings of looming severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and risk of tornadoes, drifting over Mississippi into Alabama.

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Even though these are weaker storms moving through Tuesday and Wednesday, it will remain parka-cold, with temperatures at least 5 to 10 degrees below normal well into the end of the week, Mayhan said.

Will it snow on Halloween?

At this point, the weather forecast for Halloween remains a mixed bag, with 100 different models split in disagreement on how the weather will be.

Much of Utah should stay dry for the holiday, but extreme northern Utah near the Idaho border could see some storm activity.

Mayhan says it is likely to remain dry after high pressure sets in later this week, but it will remain cold in the evenings. By Sunday, daytime temperatures in Salt Lake City could inch toward 60 degrees.

Skiers and snowboarders make their way up and down a slope at Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
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