My wife and I have been chasing storms in SLC (6 hr. drive from our home) for many years with great success. You need to follow the big weather picture on sites like Powderchaser.com to see things coming, and then the Cottonwood Canyon 24-hour forecast, which usually will include a prediction of anything imminent in the upcoming week and is the most accurate. Check the Alta Report and hit the Weather Links, which gives you the 24-hr Cottonwood Canyon, 5-day Nat. Weather, and the Utah Avalanche sites. We often run into people on the chair a Alta or Snowbird who flew out of east coast cities at 5:00 a.m. and were skiing half day that afternoon. With a direct flight and 2 hr. time gain it can work.
If you want the goods you should avoid Alta and the Bird on weekends where the powder does not last long. We will hit there for a weekday storm and then Solitude or Brighton on the weekend. There is a large contingent of SLC locals that come out of the woodwork for first chair on a big powder day, but they generally go to Alta and the Bird. Also tune in to the Alta phone snow report, which tells you what is happening with road closures in Little Cottonwood. If you get here and they have the road closed the crowd goes to Solitude. Often when it dumps big parts of the Cottonwood Canyon areas do not open until late in the day or the next day (Mineral and Road to Provo at Bird, Summit and Honeycomb Canyon at Solitude, No Name at Snow Basin, Supreme and Devils Castle at Alta), so stay tuned to what is happening and there may be new untracked the day after a storm or late afternoon.
They are predicting a very large dump in the Cottonwoods over next 24 hours. Maybe you should book your flight now. I skied the last couple of days at Solitude and there is enough base that no one seems to be complaining, although there are definitely parts of the mountain that you should avoid or be extremely careful on. Alta and the Bird get more wind hammered, so their base is extremely variable in different parts of the mountain, but this storm should solve a lot of that, although it is coming in with high winds again.
IMO the secret to life is simply a pair of rock powder skis. When its deep anything fat works well, and if you hit a few rocks while enjoying the goods you don't care. The only ones complaing are the folks who brought out their brand new boards. Your edges and tune don't matter when its deep.
Edited by mudfoot - 12/17/12 at 10:15am