Persistent Stormy Pattern

Posted Monday, November 26th, 2018 by Alex Weech

I hope you’re enjoying the bright blue skies to start out the week. It was sunny enough to get a clear view of how the snow fell across the intermountain west, courtesy of the Terra satellite.

Monday view from Terra/Modis via EOSDIS Worldview
Monday view from Terra/Modis via EOSDIS Worldview

Wyoming is the only state that has hung onto its snow for most the area; it is limited to the mountains and high valleys elsewhere. The ground is still warm enough to melt snow, but the sun is weak.

If all goes well, the end of November will be cold and sunless as a series of small storms move through. The first minor system will pass by overnight Tuesday/Wednesday, but it won’t drop much more than flurries. The next one comes at the end of the day Wednesday, and this quick-hitter could add another 6″ to the mountain snow pack.

I have to say that there is going to be a lot of uncertainty during this period. The gif below shows the trend of GFS model snowfall forecasts up to Thursday morning over the past day. Notice that over the span of 24-hours, the model goes from predicting ~4″ of snow in the Cottonwoods to ~12″. Either way it’s a relatively small storm for the Cottonwoods.

Modeled snowfall by Thursday morning via Tropical Tidbits
Modeled snowfall by Thursday morning via Tropical Tidbits. Quick reminder to never take a model snowfall map as a forecast.

After this storm, the uncertainty intensifies. It’s hard to say what days will have bursts of snow and which will just have clouds. Also, each of these small storms will favor different parts of the mountains–some days will favor Park City and others Snowbird and others Snowbasin (though Brian Head will likely be a bigger winner than any of the northern Utah resorts). My forecast is that most places in the Wasatch will get at least 10″ over the next week, with some approaching 24″ or more. It’ll be an exciting week for sure!

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