Here’s how ‘Pineapple Express’ is expected to impact Utah over next week

Feb 1, 2024, 6:57 AM | Updated: Feb 20, 2024, 8:57 am

Vehicles in Big Cottonwood Canyon Jan. 15, While utah snow levels have gone down in February, rain ...

Vehicles in Big Cottonwood Canyon Jan. 15. While snow levels have gone down in February, rain levels have made up for the missing snow. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — This week has produced spring-like temperatures, but a reminder Utah is still in the middle of winter is on the horizon.

The National Weather Service issued a mix of winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories for the mountain regions across the state, where upwards of 1½ to 2 feet of snow is possible between Thursday and Saturday afternoon.

The water-heavy storm is forecast to produce mostly rain in the valleys with heavier totals in southern Utah, but there could be a chance for some valley snow in northern Utah at times, said KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson.

The incoming storm is the first of a “two-punch” system that, he said, is expected to produce even more mountain snow early next week.

All aboard the ‘Pineapple Express’

Utah’s forecast is dominated by remnants of low-pressure systems forecast to slam California, referred to as a “Pineapple Express.” These are when moisture builds up in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and produces atmospheric rivers that produce “heavy rainfall and snow” to the Western parts of the U.S. and Canada, as noted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In this case, a storm off the Pacific Northwest is dumping massive precipitation in California, Oregon and Washington. The National Weather Service has various weather advisories in place for those states, where some parts may receive multiple inches of rain, elevating flood risks in some areas.

Utah won’t receive as much precipitation, but it could still get some moisture as the storm moves east.

“When we get leftovers from decaying atmospheric rivers, we can still get good (precipitation) in the mountains and it does look like both of these atmospheric river events will hit a bull’s-eye in southern Utah,” Johnson said. “That’s really where our snowpack has been suffering this year … so this is great news for southern Utah.”

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Here’s how ‘Pineapple Express’ is expected to impact Utah over next week