Week of Christmas

Posted Sunday, December 20th, 2020 by Ben Klein

TL;DR: High pressure is in control right now with our next storm system arriving in Utah mid afternoon on Tuesday. There is a chance for flurries tonight in Northern Utah, but accumulation is unlikely.

Nowcast: With a ridge overhead we are seeing valley highs in the low 40’s today. Today will start out partly cloudy and breezy, expect winds to be 20-25 mph in the mountains with gusts up to 40 mph. As the ridge starts to move out of the region we will continue to see an increase of cloud coverage and wind as the day goes on. The tail end of a weak system will brush Northern Utah tonight with the chance for flurries, but nothing substantial.

Alta.com (Image at 9:44AM)

Short-Term Forecast: The next 24-48 hours will be quiet in Utah as a strong downstream northwest flow is currently tracking our ridge easterly. We will see temperatures rise tomorrow (warm before the storm) with dry, windy and mild conditions through Monday night into Tuesday morning. The trough is focused north of Utah, but the Northern Wasatch Mountains will receive decent strom energy arriving late Tuesday afternoon/night. Splitting of the trough is expected, delaying the timing of the storm, but nonetheless we should receive some needed snowfall before Christmas.

SREF at Alta Collins Run 12/20/20-09Z (http://weather.utah.edu/)

As far as snow totals go we are seeing a range of numbers being thrown around, but this storm energy will not be as strong as the last. As you can see in the image above the predicted average snowfall is about 5 inches by Wednesday morning at Alta. A cold front will follow and temperatures should drop dramatically on Wednesday. By tomorrow we should have a much better idea of how strong this storm will be. We can always keep our fingers crossed and hope it overperforms!

GFS 500 mb map shows the ridge over Utah on Christmas.
Courtesy of Tropical Tidbits: tropicaltidbits.com

Long-Term Forecast: Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will see snow on Christmas, but it’s never too late for something to change. There isn’t much agreement between the models if the ridge is going stick around or if a trough is going to come into place. Most GEFS members and half of the EPS members show a breakdown of the ridge occurring next weekend. Meanwhile most members of the Canadian ensemble show no signs of a trough taking over. (https://www.weather.gov/)

I have high hopes that after Christmas we will return back to a stormy weather pattern!


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