Winter not over yet!

Posted Saturday, April 6th, 2019 by Pete Saunders

A weak upper level trough entered our region last night and provided some ski locations with a few inches of snow, mainly in the upper Cottonwoods where Alta and Snowbird got ~3″. Snowbasin reported 1″ of snow. Today has been quite cloudy with some snow showers in some mountain locations as that same upper level trough exits the area. Don’t expect any more accumulating snow this afternoon and evening, though.

Ridging will move in throughout the evening and into tomorrow and the early upcoming next week. Sunday should be beautiful with mostly sunny skies in all northern Utah ski locations. HOWEVER, a potent Pacific storm looks like it will move into our region by Tuesday afternoon/evening, with mountain showers possibly lingering into early Friday morning. This system looks to be quite a bit colder than the weak one we’ve been under last night through today. Even the valleys could see some snow as 700 mb temperatures could dip quite a bit as a cold front moves through Tuesday evening (see chart below). Ideally, to receive snow in the Salt Lake Valley you would need temperatures at least -7 deg C or colder. However, with heavier precipitation, the snow elevation levels often drop pretty low and valley snow can occur at “warmer” temperature thresholds. This looks like it could be the case for the Salt Lake Valley if the models hold up, with an outside chance of a fairly similar storm to the one we got last Thursday/Friday where heavy, wet snow brought down many tree branches and caused power outages in parts of the SLC metro area.

GFS 700 hPa temperatures from Monday evening through Wednesday morning. Notice how warmer temperatures (green contours) give way to much colder temperatures (blue then purple contours) as a cold front passes through the region Tuesday evening.
GFS 700 hPa temperatures from Monday evening through Wednesday morning. Notice how warmer temperatures (green contours) give way to much colder temperatures (blue then purple contours) as a cold front passes through the region Tuesday evening. Courtesy: tropicaltidbits.com

In the mountains, there is not much uncertainty about precipitation type for this next storm as it should be all snow, basically throughout. There might be some ski locations that receive rain or a mix Tuesday afternoon for a brief time, but there should be a quick transition as the cold front approaches and passes through. Although it’s too early to say how much snow we will get, it does look like it could be a pretty exciting storm with heavy snowfall rates and plenty of powder to ski in come Wednesday and Thursday.

GFS precipitation type and 700 mb frontogenesis forecast for next Monday evening through Wednesday morning. Notice how large frontogenesis values correspond with the leading edge of heavy precipitation. This indicates that a pretty strong cold front could move through our area around the Tuesday evening timeframe.
GFS precipitation type and 700 mb frontogenesis forecast for next Monday evening through Wednesday morning. Notice how large frontogenesis values correspond with the leading edge of heavy precipitation. This indicates that a pretty strong cold front could move through our area around the Tuesday evening timeframe. Courtesy: weathernerds.org
GFS forecast sounding for next Tuesday evening. Note that the temperature (red) and dew point temperature (green) lines are almost aligned at lower levels. This indicates that the low level atmosphere s forecast to be saturated and precipitation is likely. Also, the freezing level is below ~780 hPa and continuing to drop at this time as the cold front approaches and passes through the region. Courtesy: weathernerds.org
GFS forecast sounding for next Tuesday evening. Note that the temperature (red) and dew point temperature (green) lines are almost aligned at lower levels. This indicates that the low level atmosphere s forecast to be saturated and precipitation is likely. Also, the freezing level is below ~780 hPa and continuing to drop at this time as the cold front approaches and passes through the region. Courtesy: weathernerds.org

We’ll have more updates regarding the upcoming storm for you lingering spring season powder hounds. In the meantime, have a safe and happy weekend!

-Pete

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