Wasatch weather nerds and snow junkies rejoice! The latest forecasts appear to all but promise a prolonged period of unsettled weather across Northern Utah.
What’s Coming At You Tonight:
As Trey mentioned, the cold stretch we are experiencing is due to the deep, long-wave trough that is currently draped across the Western half of the country. Upstream of the parent long-wave, resides a “kicker” trough over the PNW. This short-wave will dive into the intermountain west this evening. The result will be brutal cold (-18 C at 700 mb!) and limited moisture (~0.1-0.15″ SWE) for northern Utah. The wildcard for this system will be, you guessed it, the lake-effect component. Lake-700 mb temperature differences will be in excess of 20-22 degrees Celsius into the early morning hours. The favorable temperature difference, low-level convergence over the lake and moderate winds aloft could result in lake effect for some places. This is highly dependent on the 700 mb steering flow direction. If the flow is predominately northwesterly, the Cottonwoods will benefit. If the flow veers to a more northerly direction, then the Oquirrhs will be in the line of fire.
All things considered, I will forecast 2-5″ for the higher elevations, with the Cottonwoods falling on the upper end of the scale if lake effect prevails.
Down the Pipeline:
After dropping to seasonal lows, temperatures will rebound nicely. By Thursday evening, the Intermountain West will start to feel the effects of a plume of tropical moisture known as an atmospheric river. Due to its tropical origins, the snow levels in this relatively warm event will struggle to reach the valley floor.
Above 7000′, the precipitation will be falling as snow, and there should be a lot of it. Heavy, wet, base-building snow. Its a little early to throw out exact totals, but the NAEFS Ensemble mean is throwing out QPF totals upwards of 3″ through the weekend.
Midway through next week (8-10 days out), there appears to be another “atmospheric river” type event that could have implications for our area. Just for fun, here’s the 10 day accumulated snow totals produced by the GFS (Note the ECMWF produces about half this accumulated snow):
Nearly 100″ produced out in GFS model fantasy land!!! Realistic? Probably not.. Fun to think about? ABSOLUTELY.
ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN