Jim Steenburgh

Professor - Atmospheric Sciences

University of Utah


Jim Steenburgh is professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. An avid "three sport" skier (nordic, alpine, backcountry), he is the creator of the popular blog Wasatch Weather Weenies, author of Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth, and a leading authority on mountain weather and lake-effect snowstorms.

Title: The Great Salt Lake Effect: Mechanisms and Contributions to Wasatch Snow

Thursday, May 10th, 9:15 AM

Abstract: Conventional wisdom often suggests that the lake effect is due to cold air picking up moisture from the lake and that it is of great importance for snowfall in the Wasatch Mountains.  In reality, the mechanisms driving lake-effect are multifaceted, vary from case to case, and can include a mixture of lake- and terrain-related processes.  In addition, recent studies suggest that lake-effect periods contribute less than 10% of the average cool-season precipitation in the Wasatch and Oquirrh Ranges, although there is considerable variability from year to year and large lake-effect storms during October and November can be important for building a low-elevation snowpack.   This presentation provides a review of these results and their implications, including perspectives on what a shrinking Great Salt Lake may mean for the Greatest Snow on Earth in a warming climate.  


Why We Care

  • Great Salt Lake, the second most hypersaline Inland Sea in the world, has a fate of becoming even more salty with permanent loss of a large portion of its Bear River fresh water life supply.

    Precious fresh water diverted to support more of the same, the endless expansion of the human race, big box stores, and shopping centers duplicated around the country ruining any future adventure of small town exploration and road trips.

    Everything is becoming the same. Everyone is looking the same. Everyone does the same things. Great Salt Lake is unique and the planet is loosing it as its life blood is stolen from its soft salty shores, waves gently breaking further and further out, leaving vast arrays of dry barren mudflats waiting for phragmites to invade.

    Utah does not own Great Salt Lake. Great Salt Lake is owned by the world.

    Karri Smith, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant