In the swing of spring

Its truly spring out there. Warm temperatures and clouds have conspired to dampen all but the highest North facing slopes in the Wasatch. Showers on Monday didn’t add up to anything worth talking about. After a dry buy cool day Tuesday, expect dry and warm Wednesday through Friday with slush skiing becoming widespread at the resorts that are still open.

The next trough, a weak cut off low coming out of Baja, will approach the Wasatch on Saturday. But don’t get your hopes up. Right now it looks to be warm and showery, with minimal accumulation below 8500 ft. At this point it looks like the top end accumulations might be in the 4-8″ range. But that’s quite a ways out, so we will see how the storm evolves.

Another bluebird day, then clouds and a shower

If you were like me and chose the skis over the bike/hiking shoes/golf clubs today, then you probably found some great spring skiing conditions. I ripped the groomers at Deer Valley and they did get a little slushy by afternoon, but the comfortable temps and light winds were perfect by my spring standards. Tomorrow will be similarly warm and beautiful and perfect for some sunny, slushy turns.

Monday will unfortunately see some rather crappy weather moving in. By crappy, I mean warm with some rain showers up to fairly high elevations. If the GFS model is to be believed, it could be warm enough to rain up to 9,000ft. Fortunately though, this event will be short-lived and weak. I don’t expect much precipitation to fall and the weak disturbance will be exiting early Tuesday morning.

There will be a brief dip in temperatures on Tuesday, but then a strong upper-level ridge of high pressure builds in for the remainder of the work week with clear skies and warm temps. The models still indicate the potential for a storm coming up from the south next weekend…doesn’t look like something to get excited about.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Spring has Sprung

Not much to talk about today.  Spring-like conditions will persist through the weekend.  Expect sunny skies, mild temperatures (around 70 in the valley and low to upper 50’s in the mountains), and light winds.  Sounds like some pretty sweet tailgating weather to me!


A weak system will cross through the region Monday into Tuesday next week, but we’re not expecting much in the way of snow at the moment.  A stronger system may impact Utah as we head into next weekend, but it’s way too far out for any details right now.  Get out there and enjoy the Spring weather!  

It Ain’t Over Til…. Well, Til It Stops Snowing.

Over the past 3 days, Northern Utah has received a generous amount of snow thanks to a strong cut off low that remained stationary over the intermountain west.  All Northern UT resorts reported between 16-24″ over the past 72 hours which gave the slopes a nice refresh and a few powder days.  Despite the longer days and warmer temperatures on the horizon, many Utah skiers are ready to hang it up quite yet… Here’s what you can expect the next few days:

The upper-level low is finally pushing out of the intermountain west today.. It brought ample snow to our region, but will strike next in the form of severe weather in the southern plains.  Behind this trough is a high-amplitude ridge currently situated off the west coast of the U.S.  A moderate north wind will persist with mostly clear skies and warming temperatures into the weekend.  There is a slight chance of snow tonight and tomorrow night in the upper elevations of the Wasatch due to weak upper-level embedded short waves in the transition zone between the trough and ridge.  Due to the short duration, new snow accumulations will likely be negligible.  Other than some brief overnight showers, your lift open to close forecast looks calm and mild.. Some nice spring skiing! 

About 6 days out, or next Tuesday, the ECMWF and GFS are producing favorable solutions that bring another upper-level trough from the Pacific across the Intermountain West.  This is out of our range of certainty, so don’t get your hopes up just yet.. The good news is, it looks like winter just isn’t ready to quit yet and hopefully neither are you!

Storm Update

It looks like Matt’s forecast is verifying well so far.  Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Park City have all received about 6 inches today, and we certainly aren’t done yet.

Snowfall will continue into Wednesday in the form of a complicated series of pulsating snow showers.  These events are notoriously difficult to forecast, and can often result in substantial spatial differences in accumulated snowfall.  Another caveat lies in the nature of this cut-off low, which will force flow over ridge tops from the south, even southeast.  Thus, it is possible that Park City resorts and Mineral Basin will be favored over say, Alta. 

Models depict about .5” to 1” of liquid precipitation equivalent overnight, and another .3” to .5” during the day tomorrow.  With light winds and reasonably cold temperatures, snowfall should stack up nicely.  My predicted totals are 4-8” overnight, and another 2-4” during the day tomorrow for the Wasatch.  Particularly with this storm, I won’t be surprised if some resorts see the upper end of these totals (or hopefully more), while other nearby resorts struggle to tally the lower end.  Expect south facing aspects to be favored, but a couple localized snow showers could quickly silence that.  If you have options as to where you can ski tomorrow, you’ll really want to check snowfall totals in the morning to ensure you ride tonight’s jackpot.

Tomorrow should be a great day in the Wasatch, especially since it might be a while until our next substantial storm.

A classic spring storm

The GFS and ECMWF are both on board with a classic Utah spring cut-off low deveolping this week.  Precipitation will begin tomorrow morning with that arrival of a moderately strong cold front from the northwest.  Around the time that the front reaches the Wasatch, strong southwesterly flow over the Sierra Nevada will help spin up a strong surface cyclone over southern Nevada and southern Utah.  This surface low helps stall the front somewhere over Utah, focusing precipitation in the area underneath it.

By Tuesday morning the upper-level low will move far enough east that the front will exit the state, leaving us beneath the cold, relatively unstable airmass in its wake.  This unstable air will cause alternating periods of sun and snow from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.  By Wednesday evening the low-level atmosphere should be dry enough that showers will end.

Precipitation amounts in the EC and GFS are coming more in line.  While the Central Wasatch looks to be lined up just east of the heaviest parts of the frontal band, I think the band will be wide enough (and will move enough) that the sensitivity to frontal positioning won’t be critical.

During the frontal stage of the storm (Monday morning-Tuesday morning) I expect that the the Ogden areas and Cottonwoods will see 8-16″. 5-10″ will fall in Park City.  The unstable shower phase (Tuesday morning-Wednesday afternoon) will bring an additional 4-8″ in the Cottonwoods and 2-5″ elsewhere.  That will give us Monday-Wednesday storm totals of 12-24″ in the Cottonwoods.

If I had one day to ski I would pick Tuesday. That day there should be a good amount of snow from overnight with snow showers continuing through the day. The winds should be much lighter during this storm than the last couple storms, so conditions up high should be pleasant.  Also, snow levels should drop to the valley floor by Tuesday morning, so the snow falling up high should be good fluff. Go get it!

Location, Location, Location

Peter could not be more correct about the models having difficulty forecasting cutoff lows. The exact location of the cutoff low that is digging it’s way south into the Great Basin is still not resolving well in the models. On the other hand, models have at least come into more agreement on timing of the arrival of the associated cold front. Late Sunday night, the front will begin to approach the Wasatch from the northwest. Winds will begin to pick up Sunday afternoon as the front approaches, where higher elevations will see some very windy conditions. This front will be pretty strong thanks to cold air advection aloft, helping to produce a band of precipitation along the frontal boundary. This is where location becomes a a major player for this storm. As of now, the EC has the front stalling out further west thean the GFS. Depending on where the front stalls, some locations could see significant snowfall accumulations through Tuesday.

As Peter said, favored locations could get nuked with snow (talking about 1-3 feet!) or get skunked with less snowfall. Hopefully the next round of model forecasts will show us a clearer picture in terms of the location of the stalled cold front, revealing where the most snow will likely fall. I’m crossing my fingers for the GFS, which will put the Wasatch in favored locations for very heavy snowfall!

Waiting

We’re in the midst of a weak storm crossing the Wasatch today (Friday) through tomorrow morning. It hasn’t snowed more than a dusting at the resorts as of 3pm, but the models show a slight uptick in precip overnight, so hopefully Tom’s ranges will verify. I’m sticking with them for my forecast…likely verifying on the low end. Given the fact that yesterday’s sunshine probably baked all but the shady slopes though, we may want to root for a forecast bust to avoid a “dust on crust” situation.

Expect things to clear out on Saturday, and then increasing clouds on Sunday ahead of a storm on tap for the beginning of next week.

We’re still waiting to see how the model solutions for that storm evolve…cutoff lows are more tricky for the models to forecast than your average shortwave trough. Right now the GFS brings the trough in on Monday morning, about 12 hours earlier than the EC solution. One thing that is slightly encouraging is that although the GFS (or Goofus as it’s sometimes known) has its usual giant precip accumulations for this storm, the more miserly EC is forecasting over 1″ of water. As Tom mentioned, once the trough cuts off from the jet stream and becomes the cutoff low, it will wander around the Great Basin for much of the upcoming work week. If it happens to wander around close to the Wasatch, I think we’ll get some good snowfall amounts. I’ve also seen us get skunked pretty badly with cutoff lows though. The winds tend to be weak and variable, meaning that most of the precip comes from “blobs” of precipitation pivoting around the low, rather than a nice consistent flow up the slopes of the mountains causing snow to fall in the places we know and love.

The Active Pattern Continues

Hopefully you were able to get off work/school and enjoy the fresh pow yesterday.  Most places in the northern and central Wasatch reported 12-18 inches of low density snow, which made for some awesome skiing.  The high elevation, north facing slopes are still holding onto the snow well as we head into the end of March.  The Alta-Collins snow depth sensor is reporting a depth of 106”, which is the greatest it’s been all season.  The depth should continue to increase as we head into next week with medium range models continuing to show an active pattern over the intermountain western US.


We’ll close out this week with a couple weak storm systems.  The first system will be the weaker of the two and affect the northern and central Wasatch tonight.  Scattered snow showers will persist in the mountains tomorrow before a second short wave trough dips into northern Utah Friday night.  From now to Saturday morning I expect 4-8 inches in the northern Wasatch and Upper Cottonwoods and 3-5 inches for the southern Wasatch and PCMR.  Most of the snow will fall Friday night with only a few inches expected beforehand.

Both the GFS and ECMWF are showing an interesting set up as we head into early next week.  To an extent, they are both depicting a cutoff low forming over the Great Basin.  At this point it’s unclear how much precipitation the low will have to work with or exactly where it’ll set up.  Since the low will be “cutoff” from the jetstream, it will likely meander around the Great Basin for a few days.  At the very least, expect a cool, unsettled period of weather with intermittent snow.

More on the way!

WOW! What awesome storms, 2 weeks in a row. Good news: Looks like March will continue the trend of producing the goods after a dismal February. Following a short break in the action tomorrow (Thursday) things will pick back up once again tomorrow night. Two weak disturbances will impact Northern Utah heading into the weekend giving us more new snow. While I’m not expecting anything significant for accumulations it should be enough to help keep things fairly fresh. For those anticipating “pond-skimming” up in Park City, be ready for some chilly and potentially snowy weather – it won’t be nearly the Spring skiing we had this past weekend. In terms of totals for the 2 weak disturbance I’m expecting 3 – 7 inches in the Cottonwoods and far Northern Utah (Beaver Mountain, Powder Mntn, etc.) through Saturday. Lesser amounts for PC and Sundance.

Looking ahead I’m very optimistic about the expected weather pattern to close out the month. Early – mid next week looks stellar! Yes, stellar dendrites should be plentiful! Right now models are in disagreement in terms of timing. And while it’s too far out in terms of specifics like snowfall totals, nearly all the model guidance points towards another storm cycle > a foot which would mean at the very least 1 or 2 powder days. Here’s to hopefully closing out March with > 400 inches for the season – a far cry from where we finished last season!