Weak Week

Posted Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 by Tanner Visnick

TL, DR: Conditions got progressively cloudier today ahead of an approaching front. Light snow will develop overnight and tomorrow as a weak disturbance impacts our region. Cloudy conditions will persist through Thursday, then we dry out and heat up for Super Bowl weekend!

Current Conditions: Good evening Utah skiers and riders. As of 6 pm local, intermittent showers are beginning to form along the Wasatch Front. Below are current observations from MesoWest showing warm temperatures, southerly valley winds, and northwesterly mountain top winds.

Image courtesy of MesoWest

Graphic courtesy of The University of Utah

Short Term: This evening, a weak disturbance will move through, dropping a few inches of snow in the Wasatch with northwest flow persisting through Wednesday evening (see the above Time-Height for Alta). The SREF ensemble mean calls for 3-4 inches of snow at Alta through tomorrow evening, with a spread of 1-11 inches. Since this is a northwest flow event, I expect 1-3 in PC/DV, 2-4 in BCC, and 3-6 in LCC, with most of the snow falling before the mountains open. Temperatures will drop into the upper teens at base elevations so the snow will be lighter than yesterday, but not blower. All in all, with the consistent, denser snow we’ve been having, conditions will be soft and surfy as we freshen up before the weekend.

Graphic courtesy of The University of Utah

We’ll warm up slightly on Thursday with some light snow showers possible as winds increase in the afternoon. We could see a few lingering flakes on Friday, but it should be mostly sunny and warmer. Saturday and Sunday will feel like spring with temperatures in the 30s on the slopes and in the 50s along the front. Many of you may be wondering why strong valley inversions and the infamous PCAP events have been somewhat absent this winter. There is a lot of ongoing research at the University of Utah about PCAP events, and while most of it is beyond my knowledge, valley snowpack is known to increase the likelihood of such events, in addition to extended periods of high pressure and arctic air masses. Despite ample mountain snow and an above average snowpack, perennial snow has yet to develop along the Wasatch Front. Extensive snow cover increases the surface albedo, and decreases absorbed solar radiation and daytime heating. Therefore, temperatures have been warm in the valley and our air quality has been manageable. If you are interested in reading more about this winter’s balmy weather, I recommend checking out Dr. Jim Steenburgh’s most recent post on his blog, Wasatch Weather Weenies (https://wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.com).

Long Range: A stronger cold front will impact the region on Monday and moderate snow totals are expected through Tuesday. Beyond that, its anyone’s guess as there is currently no strong signal for troughing or ridging. Thanks for reading!

Tanner Visnick


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