Models Predict Weak Chance for Snow Next Week, After a Warm Weekend

Posted Saturday, March 10th, 2018 by marcelcaron

This weekend is that time to accept the warmer weather and blue skies that hint at spring; I think there are times when that can be exactly what you need in day’s ski…still, that’s as far as I’m going to go excusing mother earth, who is letting the weather escape us this week. I see some powder in most models forecasts but it’s unclear and looks kind of weak.

Before I explain, I’ll start with a quick summary of the weather this weekend.

This Weekend

If you’re in Northern UT, you’ve noticed that it’s warm and the sky was clear all day. The warmth is here to stay for a few days, but clouds will move in beginning around 7PM and stick around through the night. These clouds are associated with a system that is bringing mostly rain to southwest UT.

We’ve been under a weak ridge that has maintained mild temperatures late last week, and will continue the pattern this next week. The ridge won’t stay without a fight…two fights.

A shortwave trough passes through this weekend and splits its energy to our north and our south. Southern Utah takes the cake with the southern piece of energy, although only high elevations will see any snow. Forcing is weaker to our north, and it is especially weak over the rest of Utah, so neither areas will see any more than clouds tonight.

The Powder

The next chance for powder in the Wasatch occurs around Wednesday this week. It’s a weak system and only a deserves a quick blurb in my opinion.

A shallow upper-level trough comes into view Tuesday morning and passes east-southeast from the northern Pacific coast of the US. Both the American (GFS) and the European (ECMWF) global models have a weak shortwave feature spin off and pass just north of Utah. The gif below shows the GFS’s deterministic (one possibility) solution for this shortwave’s trajectory.

model 3- to 5- day forecast solution (GFS)
GFS models 500 hPa relative vorticity (shaded) gif valid 11AM MT Tuesday – 11PM MT Wednesday. Note the slow-moving long-wave trough in the Pacific, and some positive vorticity features that move across the western US (courtesy

Beyond this timeframe, the global model solutions diverge. The Euro deepens the trough, then shuffles the system into the continent and weakens it substantially. The GFS solution starts with a weaker system that quickly moves east as it continues to weaken. These are 7-10 day forecasts, and my point is that models don’t easily make sense of the weather in that timeframe and beyond. I’m interested to see what that trough decides to do as we get closer to next weekend. Stay tuned this week!

In summary, we have warm weather for the next few days, a chance for snow on Wednesday, and an interesting set-up to look out for next weekend.


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