After a long stretch of having to use my A/C at night the past few weeks (overnight lows were typically what we would see in July!), it FINALLY feels like fall in the Wasatch this morning. An upper-level trough dropped into Utah last night, and brought some much needed rain and even snow above about 10,500ft in the Wasatch.
So after a glorious summer of river trips, trail running, mountain biking, and climbing, it’s about time for us here at Utah Ski Weather to start shaking the cobwebs off our snow forecasting skills and prepare for the ski season! We…well at least most of us…have made good progress over the summer on our thesis and dissertation research here at the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the U, so we are once again recharged and ready for another season of bringing you all high quality snow forecasts for the Wasatch!
That being said, you may be wondering, “will we finally have a normal or above-normal winter?” It’s been 4 very long years since this happened.
Well as you may have heard, it’s a virtual certainty that El Niño conditions will be present this winter, and confidence is increasing that it will be a strong El Niño. So what does this mean for Northern Utah? Unfortunately not very much. Strong El Niño years typically mean a high chance of a wet winter in the Southwestern U.S. and a high chance of a dry winter in the Pacific Northwest, but Northern Utah is of course in neither of those regions. Southern Utah (I’m looking at you, Brian Head) looks like they have a decent shot at a good winter though. If you take a look at the NWS Climate Prediction Center’s 3-month precipitation forecast, you’ll see that they made their forecast based primarily on the forcing from El Niño (there are many other oscillations that affect global weather patterns), and that the Wasatch is indeed in the region between high chances of above normal and high chances of below normal. Fight the temptation to conclude that that means we’ll have an average winter…it just means that there is no predictability this winter for Utah. It’s a total crap-shoot. I know I know, many of you are probably thinking “a meteorologist just told me that there’s a 50-50 chance we’ll have a good winter, that’s really helpful.” Well while 7-day weather prediction has become quite skilled in the modern times of super computers and satellites, the truth is that season-scale climate prediction is still in its infancy. So you can always take a look at the absolute garbage that is spewed from non-scientific sources like the Farmer’s Almanac, but I prefer to do a snow dance, pay attention to the forecast each weak, and make my ski plans accordingly!
We’ll be keeping an eye on the weather from here on out, and as soon as it looks likely that our first big, skiable Fall storm is on the horizon, we will be sure to let you know. We look forward to a great season and thank you for checking out USW!