By Amy Joi O’Donoghue
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s mountains are picking up some much needed snow from a slow-moving storm that is expected to linger into Sunday.
The storm chased away an inversion that had been hanging over the Wasatch Front and is covering up the mounds of snow that had turned gray and dirty from roadway traffic.
Winter storm warnings or winter weather advisories remain in effect for the northern half of the state, where the mountains are expected to get a foot to 20 inches of new snow.
Valley accumulations along the Wasatch Front could reach 6 inches in some locations by the end of tonight, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
The on-again off-again snow storm had already dropped some valley snow that managed to stick by late Saturday.
Roy in Weber County picked up 2 inches of new snow, Brigham City received 3.4 inches and Alpine in Utah County saw 3 inches. The Utah Test and Training Range was hit with 10 inches of snow as of 5 p.m. Saturday, and Powder Mountain ski area had 8 inches of new powder.
In the Salt Lake City area, the storm’s performance was less impressive. Sandy had just a skiff over an inch of snow and the Salt Lake International Airport had picked up a little more than an inch and a half of new snow.
That dismal showing at the airport is probably just fine for workers who have to clear runways and deal with a storm’s aftermath. In January, the airport had a staggering 190 percent of average snow accumulation, according to Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
City Creek Canyon had 117 percent of average, while Brighton was only at 72 percent of average.
At Lakefork in the Uinta Mountains at an elevation of 10,966 feet, the snowpack was just 84 percent of average.
McInerney, in his February briefing on water supply, reservoir storage and snowpack said January — despite all its snowiness — didn’t deliver when it came to the mountains.
This past January will go down as the coldest on record at the Salt Lake International Airport since 1949 and the first time temperatures have dipped below zero there since 2008.
Some other facts to consider: it was the sixth coldest January since 1874, as well as the 13th snowiest January since that time.
Reservoir storage, however, is not faring that well.
From February of 2012 to February of 2013, McInerney said Pineview in Weber County is down 36 percent, Deer Creek is down 15 percent and East Canyon is down 34 percent.
Based on the snow stored up in the mountains so far, McInerney is forecasting a runoff that is only 70 percent of average for most of the basin drainages in the state. The others, like the Weber-Ogden River drainage, is less than that at 65 percent of average.