Escape the Inversion!

The air in the valley has been downright nasty this week. A fast-moving disturbance last night and this morning did little to help sweep out the building pollution trapped at low-levels. What better way to breathe clean than escape to higher elevations!

But really, everyone should continue to limit their outdoor activities in the valley today.. PM 2.5 is currently at unhealthy levels in the SLC valley, extending south to the point of the mountain. You can monitor the air quality using an interactive tool created by researchers at the U of U. Heres the link: http://meso2.chpc.utah.edu/gslso3s/

And according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, its not gonna get better in the next few days

Our next chance of snow is on deck for Sunday. A trough will move across the state, bringing a bit of moisture and fresh snow at high elevations. Details will solidify over the next day or so, but it looks promising for Northern Utah. The NAEFS plumes of forecasted snowfall show the uncertainty that exists when we look several days ahead. As we draw closer to Sunday, we will be able to give you a better idea of how much snow we are talking.

As for now, go enjoy the crowd-free resorts and the good base we are already building, because you know, health.

-Taylor

I’ve got a feva’ and the only cure is mo’ powder.

Better get a doctor’s note for next week.

TL;DR
A small system currently over central California will bring snow showers to the Wasatch later this afternoon through tomorrow with accumulations in the Wasatch between 4-7 inches with isolated areas receiving 8-12 inches. Another system will impact the region by this weekend with an additional dosage of snow. A little to far out to throw numbers but could be a decent amount when the storm leaves the area by Tuesday.

Today through Friday:
Infrared satellite images show a developed upper level trough over central California which is moving towards central/southern Utah. This system, which will not be as strong as the previous storm, could still bring 4-7 inches of snow to the Wasatch mountains (some isolated areas could receive 8-12 inches) by the end of Thursday with the heaviest accumulations starting tonight. Ridge top winds will be out of the South/Southwest with gusts in the low to mid 30s. As a side note, the air quality in the Salt Lake valley is quite terrible with the inversion inhibiting the mixing of air aloft which in turn is allowing the increase of particulates to unhealthy levels. I would avoid any exercise in the valley. This system will not be strong enough to fully mix out the air so we will have unhealthy air until the weekend. An inversion itself is not bad; what we put into the inversion is. Below is an image of the sounding from Salt Lake Airport showing a strong, stable inversion with high relative humidity at the surface. To the right is data from the PM2.5 instruments on top of three UTA trains moving across the valley.

Data from SPC (left) and University of Utah TRAX program (right)

Into the Weekend:
Models are showing weak dynamics for the next system but interaction of air aloft with terrain could bring higher amounts of snow then what ensemble members are indicating. It’s a little too far away to start throwing numbers out by my confidence is slowly rising that by Tuesday of next week I will have a terrible cold and won’t be able to make it into work.

Stay informed with Avalanche conditions by checking with
https://utahavalanchecenter.org

-Andy




Smog Below, Thin Clouds and Wind Up High

TL;DR: High clouds and upper-level SW winds through Wednesday with a chance of some quick-moving snow showers totaling 1-2 inches for the mountains of Northern Utah, and 4-8 inches for Central and Southern Utahn mountains by Thursday afternoon.

Image courtesy of Snowbird, taken from the top of Hidden Peak overlooking LCC and the capped pollution in the Salt Lake Valley with wispy cirrus overhead on the evening of Dec. 3rd.

Short-Term: Hope everyone has had a great first weekend of resort skiing in Northern Utah! Aside from the traffic mishaps in the Cottonwoods on Friday (a lesson to be learned by UDOT), resorts were able to progressively open up terrain and though everyone and their mothers went up skiing, lift lines certainly diminished by Sunday afternoon and were nearly non-existent yesterday and today as the 9-5’ers got back to work (myself included). Looking ahead to tomorrow, it looks like it should be a great day in the mountains aside from some high level clouds and moderate ridgetop winds out of the SW associated with the next low pressure system off the Californian coast currently making its way inland. This system should bring 1-2 inches in the Northern Mountains and about a half-foot to Central and Southern high elevations through Thursday.

Clouds associated with the next approaching storm system which has dropped a quick chunk of snow in parts of the Sierras. This storm will mainly affect Southern and Central Utah through Thursday. Goes-17 true color image courtesy of https://weather.cod.edu/
700mb level temperatures and wind barbs courtesy of Tropical Tidbits. Note that we stay right around freezing with SW winds across much of the state until the storm rolls through.
NAM modeled precipitation reflectivity through the next couple days. Images courtesy of Tropical Tidbits.

Long-Term: The outlook beyond Thursday has started to show that we may see more storms by late this weekend. Models are currently hinting at a coastal low that will penetrate inland and bring stormy conditions and colder temperatures across Utah. Currently, there doesn’t look to be a ton of moisture associated with the timing of this storm and modeled snow totals aren’t totally in agreement with whether this will be a big dump or just another glancing blow. It is certainly something to look out for within the next couple days as another foot or more would ski excellent on top of what has already been dropped on us. Stay tuned as we’ll stay on top of it here at utahskiweather.com.

500mb normalized height anomaly through this coming weekend showing both Thursday’s storm as well as what may come through by Saturday or Sunday.

Thanks for reading, get out and enjoy our new 5 foot base! -Trent S. Parker

Quiet Workweek, More on The Horizon

TL;DR: Pretty quiet over the next few days with a weak system making its way through Utah Wednesday/Thursday, mostly affecting the southern part of the state. Another storm moves in this weekend.

Currently, high clouds are streaming into the state with some showers along the Idaho border. These are associated with a trough affecting the Sierra’s and will bring us some snow Wednesday/Thursday.

Short-Term: As mentioned above, the trough bringing snowfall to the Sierrra’s right now will move into the interior west mid-week. The majority of the precipitation will stay in southern Utah, with the northern part of the state seeing some snow showers. Most resorts in northern Utah will see a few inches by Thursday. Mountains in Southern Utah will fair better and should see somewhere from 3-6″.

Long-Term: Conditions will clear out Thursday afternoon with a ridge building in behind the exiting trough. Heading into the weekend, an upper-level trough will dig in from the Pacific and bring us our next chance for snowfall across the state.

GFS 500mb heights and vorticity (www.weatherbell.com)

Snowfall amounts vary from model-to-model right now but a good amount of snow is possible.

NAEFS ensemble plumes for Alta, UT (weather.utah.edu)

Once we get closer to the weekend we should have a better idea of how much snow will fall. Until then, make sure to stay tuned!

Eric

Snow Showers Early, Something to Watch for the Weekend

It’s been a crazy and deep past few days. After 54″ in 2 days down in Northern Arizona (see the image below), I made it back to Utah just in time to catch the season opening of the Powderhorn lift at Solitude. Check out the video Solitude put together:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5irhGxhu6h/?utm_source=ig_web_button_native_shar

It was great to see the Wasatch go off.

TL;DR: Light snow tonight and tomorrow and the pattern remains active moving forward!

Currently, we have partly cloudy skies across most of Northern Utah, with temps in the 30s in the valley and 20s in mountains. It was a nice day to be on the hill.

Short Term Forecast

There is not too much going on in the short term. Remnants from a strong Sierra storm will be making their way through the intermountain West, however the heaviest will be north of Utah. The Wasatch will generally see just a coating to a few inches, with perhaps a little more in Northern Utah including Beaver Mountain. It will likely be warm enough that any precipitation seen in the valleys will be in the form of rain.

There will be a chance of accumulating snow in Southern Utah during the middle of the week, but this does not look like a major event at this time.

Long Term Forecast

Looking beyond the weak system tonight/tomorrow, the models are indicating that another trough will move into the Western US next weekend. In the gif below, you can see the trough off the coast of California weaken and then quickly move through the region. This is an ensmble model showing the upper level pattern. The blue colors generally indicate an area of low pressure (storminess) while the red colors indicate an area of higher pressure (ridge/warm/dry). Around Friday of next week, you can see another trough moving across the Pacific and into the Western US.

(Image courtesy of Weatherbell)

I don’t love the current ensemble model forecast trough position for big snows in Utah, but its 5-6 days away so that can change. We will provide updates on the next storm throughout the week.

Luke


What an end to SNOW-vember!

TL;DR: Dry weekend with a chance of snow overnight on Monday. Avalanche warning until 6AM Sunday.

Storm Totals

Well, it seems like an early November without snow was worth the wait. As mentioned yesterday, Alta is the winner with a reported 67” snow total, with 12” in the past 24 hours. Brighton is close behind with a 62” storm total, and Solitude and Park City follow with 46” and 49” respectively. 

Forecast

The NWS has an Avalanche Warning issued for the southern and central Wasatch and the western Uintas until 6AM Sunday. Check out the Utah Avalanche Center website for more details, as it seems much of the mountains in Utah are under High or Considerable avalanche danger. Be safe out there!


Graphic courtesy of Utah Avalanche Center

Clouds have cleared up a great deal since yesterday as the low pressure system tracks east to bring snow and rain to the Northeast. We can expect the weather here to dry out with highs in the upper 30s in the valley until clouds move in overnight Sunday. There’s no threat of precipitation until Monday night as a weak ridge dominates over the next couple days. Keep checking back here for more details, but right now it doesn’t look like we’ll get much snow — maybe a few inches. In the long-range, we’re keeping an eye on a potential storm for next weekend. More details to come.

Enjoy the powder!!

– Julie

Late Night Push to Finish this System

TL;DR: Snow continues through tonight with additional 10-15″ in the Cottonwoods, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain and 5-10″ at Park City and Canyons.

Opening day for the remaining resorts in the Cottonwoods has arrived and it could not be a better start! As I am back on the east coast for Thanksgiving, I’m anxiously awaiting to get back to Utah to enjoy all of this powder.

Little Cottonwood seems to be the winner of this system with Alta receiving almost 30″ in the past 24 hours with the other Cottonwood resorts receiving 15-20″ in 24 hours.

Currently, the heaviest snowfall is happening over the greater Salt Lake area, including in the valley. The snow should continue in the valley until early this evening as the storm pushes eastward. Meanwhile, the snow will continue to linger in the Wasatch Front for several more hours through the night.

HRRR model forecast through 11pm tonight. (Via Tropical Tidbits)

Through this evening, ensembles are showing an average of roughly 10-15″ for the windward side of the Wasatch resorts and 5-10″ for the leeward side resorts. Check out what the ensembles are saying about your favorite resort in the link below this image.

Ensembles showing roughly 15 more inches through the rest of the night at Alta (via weather.utah.edu)

After this last burst of snowfall through this evening, the rest of the weekend will remain dry as a weak ridge pushes in over the weekend. Our next chance of snow looks to come around mid-week next week, but will definitely not be as impressive as this current system. A way-too-far forecast shows a chance of system moving in next weekend as well. Stay tuned through the week to get the latest forecasts. Tweet us your opening weekend shenanigans on the mountain and I’ll see you guys out there Sunday!

-Kevin

Persistent Thanksgiving Storm

Quick update: The current storm has already dumped a healthy dose of snow on mountains across the state. The winners so far appears to be Snowbasin and Alta with 40″.

The plume of moisture accompanied by a persistent south west flow will continue to meander across the state through the day tomorrow. Right now it’s shifted a bit to the west, but models have it swinging back to the east later tonight. I expect a period of heavy precip overnight everywhere, but areas that have done the best over the last couple days will continue to do so through tomorrow evening.

Later tomorrow the flow will finally shift to the W/NW. This should lead to a good period of snow, especially over the Cottonwoods. Overall, I expect another 1-2ft in the mountains across the state.

We gradually dry out on Saturday and remain dry through Sunday night. A weak system may clip northern Utah on Monday. Next chance of a substantial system appears to be towards the end of next week.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the powder this weekend!

Snow Much to Be Thankful For!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all our fellow snow lovers! We are thankful for each and every one of you!! We are also thankful to have our website BACK IN BUSINESS!

As I’m sure you all have noticed, we have one heck of a storm underway. This potent snow-maker will keep cranking until Saturday, making the first full weekend at many resorts one for the books. Let this serve as your “Too Long Didn’t Read” section, but let me tell ya, you’re gonna wanna read it all.

Snow has been persistent since this morning, but was slightly impeded by downsloping easterly winds. These downslope effects cause the air to dry and warm as it descends the terrain, creating a dry layer near the surface which allowed for some sublimation of falling snow. This easterly wind has since stopped, so the lower layers will be able to adequately moisten and support sustained snowfall.

Wind observations from a station on the U of U campus. Plot via mesowest.utah.edu

Meanwhile, it has been DUMPING in the mountains.. About 8″ of fresh snow has fallen at Snowbird and Alta! Similar amounts have been reported from our friends a bit further north at Snowbasin. And the best news of all is we’re just getting started..

Snow pillow snap shot via webcams on snowbird.com

Forecast for Wednesday evening – Saturday morning:
A moisture-rich, slow-moving trough will make its way across the state over the next few days, bringing several rounds of heavy snow to both the valleys and mountains. The National Weather Service SLC has issued a winter storm warning for the entire county warning area.. With today being one of the highest-volume travel days of the year, please proceed with caution!! Driving carefully and slowly will help ensure you arrive safely to your destination. Or best of all, avoid travel completely if possible.

Currently, the center of the closed low associated with this storm is situated to the west of Utah. This synoptic environment is the source of the predominately south-southwesterly flow aloft. This moist, southerly flow has helped to somewhat moderate temperatures today, keeping the valley floors at or near freezing. This advection of “warmer” moist air is creating some instability at mid-levels allowing for the potential for convective snow showers into the evening hours. This is shown by the time-height cross section below from weather.utah.edu

Over the next 24-36 hours, the trough will slowly move eastward. Beginning late tonight into tomorrow morning, the snow will be thermally forced by a 700-mb convergence zone that will extend southwest to northeast across the state. This boundary is along the easternmost edge of the upper-level low, which will stall in its eastward progression for a time tomorrow.

12Z ECMWF forecast of 700 mb temperatures, valid Thursday 9 am.
Plot via maps.weatherbell.com

Thursday night into Friday, the trough will finally eject across Utah and undergo some strengthening as it moves out to the northeast. Periods of moderate-to-heavy snowfall will be expected throughout the day on Friday. As the trough exits the region, northern Utah will enter the West-Northwest flow regime of the cyclone, which will allow prolonged snowfall to occur in the mountains, predominately in favored geographic locations such as Big and Little Cottonwood canyon. Drier air will move in by late Saturday, shutting off some of the bonus orographically-enhanced snowfall.

So you came here for the snow totals, huh? Well, we have those for ya. Here’s what the consensus is through Saturday:
Cottonwood Canyons: 28-40″
Ogden resorts: 24-30″
Park City resorts: 12-20″

And for fun, here’s the latest simulated reflectivity from the NAM 3 km from maps.weatherbell.com

Enjoy!

-Taylor

Another Spring Storm

It’s been a pretty solid snow season wouldn’t you say? It seems like we’ve had the good fortune of forecasting storm after storm this year. And it looks like for these least these last two posts, we’ll have the opportunity to do the same!

View from Alta this afternoon. Mostly cloudy skies with plenty of snow to ski. Courtesy: onthesnow.com
View from Alta this afternoon. Mostly cloudy skies with plenty of snow to ski. Courtesy: onthesnow.com

Today saw mostly cloudy skies over most Utah ski locations with a little bit of snow falling in the morning and early afternoon hours as a weak shortwave moved into and has lingered over our area. Snowbird and Alta have reported 2″ over the last 24 hours, with little to no accumulations reported elsewhere.

A shortwave that has been moving across the Gulf of Alaska will push into the Pacific Northwest on Monday, and into the Intermountain West by Tuesday morning. This should bring another round of fairly significant mountain snow into our Utah ski locations. Through Wednesday, expect 10-14″ in the Cottonwoods, and 7-11″ for Snowbasin. Below is a map of the ECMWF 72 hour total snowfall forecast.

ECMWF 72 hour Kuchera total snowfall forecast valid through Wednesday morning. Courtesy: models.weatherbell.com
ECMWF 72 hour Kuchera total snowfall forecast valid through Wednesday morning. Courtesy: models.weatherbell.com

As I said before, this has been a pretty nice year overall for snow. That is proven by looking at SNOTEL data below showing that many mountain locations are well over 100% of normal in terms of snow water equivalent. That’s pretty impressive!

SNOTEL liquid equivalent percent of normal. Courtesy: https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov
SNOTEL snow water equivalent percent of normal. Courtesy: https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov

I hope you all got to enjoy the snow out there this year; I know I have. It’s been fun forecasting for y’all this season; I hope our forecasts have been helpful to most of you out there. Take care and be safe as we transition to summer sports season!

-Pete