Early sunsets and late-week moisture

Posted Tuesday, December 4th, 2018 by Lucas Bohne

Temperatures started off chilly all across the region this morning thanks to a combination of recent snow cover, clear skies, and cold air advection in the wake of our weekend storm. A view of minimum temperatures since midnight from MesoWest shows many of our mountainous areas near or below zero degrees Fahrenheit, with some especially cool observations well below zero of -11 F in the northern part of Snyderville Basin near Kimball Junction,  -7 F  at Cardiff in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and -8 F at Trial Lake in the Uinta Mountains. The famously cold Peter Sinks dipped to -34 F overnight.

Minimum temperatures (F) since midnight across the Central Wasatch and Eastern Uintas. (mesowest.utah.edu).
Minimum temperatures (F) since midnight across the Central Wasatch and Eastern Uintas. (mesowest.utah.edu).

As we approach the northern hemisphere winter solstice later this month, days are becoming shorter and nights are becoming longer, however, we get to experience our earliest sunsets of the year over the next several days with sundown just before 5:00pm MST. You might ask: “Why is our earliest sunset several days before the winter solstice?” It has to do with the tilt of the earth and how time is kept, and is nicely summarized here. The same goes with our latest sunrise, which occurs several days after the winter solstice in the beginning of January.

Salt Lake City sunrise and sunset times from timeanddate.com. Our earliest sunsets of the year are this week.
Salt Lake City sunrise and sunset times from timeanddate.com. Our earliest sunsets of the year are this week. Explore more at: Time and Date.

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Short Range Forecast (Wednesday – Friday)

While the temperatures were frigid this morning a rebound will occur starting tomorrow – especially for the higher terrain in the region.  The storm system impacting southern California at present time will eject warmer and moister air into the region from the southwest during the morning hours tomorrow. This should allow for some nice orographic precipitation to pop up over the mountains resulting in a bit of light snow. However, don’t expect much in terms of snowfall – maybe up to a couple of inches during the day tomorrow for our mountains. Some more moisture looks like it will be in place during the day on Thursday, but it’ll be still somewhat unexciting (maybe up to another couple inches) as the brunt of the storm passes well to our south. Drying out will start to occur for the weekend along with intensification of inversion conditions.

GFS time-height section for the rest of the week. Expect more moist/cloudy conditions for the remainder of the work week, with clearing for the weekend and intensifying inversion conditions. (weather.utah.edu)
GFS time-height section for the rest of the week. Expect more moist/cloudy conditions for the remainder of the work week, with clearing for the weekend and intensifying inversion conditions.
(weather.utah.edu)

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Weekend and beyond

Beyond our weak surges of moisture during the rest of the week, calm weather will be the case for the weekend and into next week.  Potential for a more active weather period begins midweek next week around the 11th/12th of December, as seen below in the GFS ensemble viewer from wetterzentrale.de. Enjoy the great early-season conditions under the sun this weekend!

Lucas

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