Living on the Edge

January 31, 2015 Jeff Massey

After getting a little snow last night it looks like northern Utah is in store for a hair-pulling pattern for the next 10 day days or so.  We will be right on the edge of a very active storm track and very small changes in storm posititions will make for huge changes in snowfall amounts.  Let's get right to it...

Clouds will be on the increase tomorrow afternoon as some subtropical moisture finally makes its way back into the West.  For Sunday night through Monday afternoon I am not forecasting any acculating snow since Utah will be south of the best moisture and dynamics.  It will be cloudy and a few snow showers are possible, especially further north.

Our first shot at some decent snow begins Tuesday morning and lasts through Wednesday night (!).  The GFS model has been adament recently about bringing a narrow band of heavy precipitation far enough south to affect all of the northern Utah resorts (Sundance and north).  Temperatures are mild and snow levels would be greater than 6000 feet in this scenario.  The NAM model also supports this storm trajectory, but the European and Canadian models favor a more northern trajectory and give the tetons the best accumulation.  Even these models give nothern Utah something at least.  For now I will say Wednesday could be a powder day, but lets wait and see if the other models trend towards the GFS before getting too excited.

After Wednesday we ridge back up with clear skies and warm conditions through the end of the week.  Next weekend is starting to look very interesting, however.  Currently, northern Utah is forecasted to be right on the southern edge of a very impressive atmopsheric river (pineapple express) event.  This could mean lots of precip and very warm temperatures, or it could mean we will be cloudy and warm.  Either way hopefully all of us at Utahskiweather can get back to forecasting storms and not ridges. Stay tuned.

Although this is a very uncertain forecast I am certain that the Patriots will beat the Seahawks tomorrow by at least 40 points.  Go Pats!

Dust on Crust

January 30, 2015 Peter Veals

A storm is cranking up this afternoon in southern Utah, and the scraps from this system are impacting northern Utah and the Wasatch with occasional light snow falling through tomorrow morning.

These scraps on the edge of the storm/moisture are rather difficult to predict, but I am going to go with a forecast of 2-4" for the upper Cottonwoods, with amounts rapidly decreasing to a dusting as you move north toward Snowbasin and PowMow. Snow levels will likely be around 6,500 feet. As Ian mentioned, our friends down at Brian Head look to do quite well today/tonight, with a storm total of 8-12". So although we aren't expecting much in the Wasatch, at least someone is gonna get some good powder turns this weekend.

The storm will make a hasty exit tomorrow, and a brief low-amplitude ridge will build in through Monday. This ridge will likely break down a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing some moisture, lift, and precip into northern Utah. This "dirty ridge" setup is quite precarious though, as a slight shift in the postition can make a huge difference in who gets snow or not, so the details are still up in the air at this point. Another day of model consistency and a tightening of the ensemble spread will allow for a better idea of whether this will be a decent storm for us, or if it will go down as yet another "brush the Wasatch, dump on the Tetons" situation.

Keep doing those snow dances!


A little action on the side

January 29, 2015 Ian Glenn

Persistent atmospheric ridging and just plain bad luck regarding the path of storms have led to low snow totals for the past few weeks at the ski resorts in the Northern Wasatch. However, tonight the tides have turned (almost literally) as a surge of moisture from the south brings massive amounts of precipitation to Arizona and moderate amounts to Southern Utah. So even though you may have been having a great time skiing up here in the Cottonwood canyons, there's nothing wrong with taking a southern detour now and then! Consider giving Brian Head a chance, because I'm expecting 8" to 12" to accumulate there through Friday! Saturday morning will be filled with powder turns for all Southern Utah skiers.

Will any of that moisture make its way far enough to give Northern Utah some precipitation? Over the past few days there have always been a minority of model ensemble members that allow the moisture to travel far enough north to imply the Cottonwoods would get at least a few inches of snow tonight. It seems they were in the minority for a good reason because high-resolution models meant for now-casting indicate nothing significant will accumuluate in the Northern Wasatch tonight.

So when's our next chance? Tuesday night into Wednesday of next week. Both the EC and GFS show "dirty ridging" next week, moisture and vorticity propagating as a shortwave comes over the ridge and down into the Northern Rockies. Once again we will be on the edge of the action, so for a sure bet you'll have to go to Jackson, or at least Bear Lake. But according to many ensembles it is perfectly possible we'd get some non-trivial snow if the flow of the atmosphere brings us moist NW winds, so I'll start by pinning the numbers at 3-6" most likely for the Tuesday/Wednesday storm next week, but with about a 20% chance of going 8-10" which counts as a powder day in my book! 

Deja Vu and Desperation

January 29, 2015 Trey Alvey

The quick hitting storm from the south on Tuesday night / Wednesday AM actually provided decent totals around 5 inches for Pow Mow and Snowbasin where a mesoscale band was able to form. Farther south in the Cottonwoods and PC area, resorts didn't fare as well topping out at only an inch or 2.

I've had some serious deja vu writting blog updates the past few weeks...I guess that'll happen when you're stuck in a crappy pattern with nothing new or exciting to report on. Out of desperation I'll try to give every one a little hope..bust desperate hope usually isn't a good thing..I'll get to that in a sec.

Another storm will brush Northern Utah from the south on Friday. Southern Utah looks to be the big winners as a shortwave trough / upper level low moves east southeast across the region. A prolonged period of light - moderate precipitation will impact the four corners region and I'd expect 6 inches + at resorts like Brian Head who desperately need the snow. For Northern Utah the primary ascent will be just to the south meaning we likely won't see any significant precipitation. PC and Cottonwood Resorts may see a couple inches of snow through Saturday but no "pow day" to speak of. Resorts farther north likely won't see more than a dusting at best.

Moving into the beginning of next week we move into a more zonal flow followed by a transition into NW'ly flow. Several weak disturbances will affect the region, but uncertainty remains too high to know just how much they'll impact Nrn Utah. The GFS and EC currently are not giving us big totals and keep the "sweet spot" a few hundred miles to the north. Time for the "desperation" I mentioned above. While several EC Ensembles aren't exactly showing us in the sweet spot, they are at least giving us some modest snowfall. The Canadian Model (or Crazy Uncle as we like to call it when forecasting hurricanes in the tropics), however, shifts that sweet spot directly overhead and hits us pretty good as several disturbances move through the NW'ly flow. Right now obviously you have to go with consensus (GFS and EC) for marginal snow totals at best. There is at least potential, as small as it may be, for some "real snow" again. Don't count on it, but hopefully models trend in this direction in the next few days and the others will have better news to report!  

Anyone else in a bad mood?

January 27, 2015 Matt Jeglum

First things first: The trough that is currently to our west will continue to drift north and east tonight.  No measurable snow has fallen in the Wasatch today and I am going to stick with Matt L's forecast from yeserday of 2-5 inches tonight.  The snow should be over by noon tomorrow.  Storm total: 2-5 inches.  Sigh.  Did I mention is will be mostly rain below 6500'?  We can't catch a break this year.  But hey, you could live in Washington.  At least our snow doesn't get washed away by rain. 

The models are fairly consistent now on another trough digging a bunch of moisture up from low latitudes and pushing it in to Utah on Friday.  Moisture, orographic lift, and dynamic lift with this system will be meager, so it won't add up to much.  I am thinking another 2-4 inches in the Cottonwoods and Park City with less further north. Snow levels will be near 6500' again. We will be on the northern fringe of this storm so don't try to escape to the desert this weekend due to the marginal skiing.  You might get rained on unless you are just down there on Sunday.

The long range forecast looks relatively dry, although there is some dim hope for somw snow next Tuesday or Wednesday.

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