Wet and Warm Storm

Posted Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by Alex Weech

The next round of wet weather in the Wasatch Mountains starts tomorrow. An incredibly wet system is moving off the Pacific and dragging a lot of tropical moisture into the western United States. Scattered showers are possible at any time this weekend, but most of the precipitation here in Utah will fall in two waves. The first wave will be Friday morning and the second will be Saturday afternoon into the evening.

The incoming storm, via NOAA
The incoming storm, via NOAA

The snow levels should be above valley floor for this entire event, but which elevations in the mountains are getting snow will vary over the weekend. For the first wave tomorrow morning, snow levels will be relatively low. Elevations above 8000 feet should be seeing the white stuff and 3-5″  of wet snow will fall during this time. Once the precipitation becomes more showery later Friday, temperatures (and snow levels) will start to rise. By Saturday morning melting will pass 10000′ and further showers will mostly manifest as rain.

Most of the storms this winter have had large model spreads, and this one is no different. The uncertainty with this one is due to differences in moisture availability and the wind. Most of the day Saturday will be spent in a super-moist pre-frontal environment, and if the setup is just right the mountains will get a lot of precipitation. Unfortunately snow levels at this point will be over 12k feet and it would be a lot of rain. The range model right now is between 0.5″ and 2″, but an inch of rain looks to be most likely.

Around 5 in the evening a strong cold front comes through and switches the rain to snow overnight. By Sunday morning any pop-up showers that do form will be snow in the mountains, but it will be very hit-and-miss. All in all this weekend will be a whole lot of rain and not that much snow. It’s April, so we can’t expect too much. Hopefully we can get a colder storm later in the month.

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