One to the south, then one to the north

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 6:52 am

Summary:

Southern Utah mountains will see good snowfall accumulations through tonight as a storm spins through the desert southwest.  Northern Utah will see occasional snow showers but accumulations will be light.  A moist flow could bring snow to far northern Utah middle of next week.

Details:

Our southwest storm system has moved into Arizona overnight with plenty of rain and high mountain snowfall.

radar

 

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This moisture has quickly been streaming northward into Southern Utah where Brian Head has reported 2″ overnight and still snowing.  Snow should continue there through the day into tonight.  6-12″ with perhaps more on the upper mountain possible.  Eagle Point should also get some decent snow.

For the Wasatch, we are going to struggle to see much.  We should still get some snow showers, especially in the southern and central Wasatch (from I-80 south).  My guess right now is 1-4″ for the Cottonwoods/PC resorts with a trace to 2″ at snowbasin and Powder Mountain.  The south facing slopes of the Uintas could do a bit better with up to 6″.  If this somehow tracks farther north/west than expect, we could do better with our totals.  This system is very much track-dependent, so there’s opportunity to be surprised.

High pressure builds in for late Saturday thru Monday.   By late in the day Monday the ridge flattens and moisture starts to stream into far northern Utah.  Embedded waves of energy move over the ridge through Thursday of next week.  Right now the best precipitation continues to look to stay north of the state (Tetons could do well).  However, again, just a slight change in the amplitude of the ridge along the west coast could have large implications.   If the ridge ends up being only slightly less amplified than current models suggest or sets up farther west, then the precip could works its way farther south and we could be looking at a decent snow event for the Wasatch.  For right now though, I’m expecting only a few snow showers with the majority of precip staying north of the state.

Beyond that, high pressure looks likely to re-establish itself.  By about February 7, the high pressure moves directly overhead as a trough digs along the west coast.  From the 7th thru the 10th of February.  Stronger systems attempt to move into the west coast.  This could be good news for the Cascades and perhaps even the Sierra Nevada.  But as the systems try to move inland, many models have them encountering the high pressure and sheering apart.  Utah is left with mostly scraps.  There are some ensembles that hold the systems together better.  We’ll have to wait and see.

I maintain the stance that we won’t get into any great snowfall pattern until we undergo a major pattern change.  So while occasional storms are possible, what I’d like to see is a pattern that can brings us consistent storms for an extended period.  Right now, I don’t see that happening until mid-February at the earliest.

Snowpack:

Just a quick look at west-wide snowpack numbers:

basin_map

As expected, we’ve continued to fall.  We are now certifiably below normal in Utah.  At the beginning of January, these numbers were healthy with generally 100-130% of normal.  Some take solace in knowing that it could be worse.  One look at the Cascades and Sierra should tell you that much.  Many of their ski areas are struggling just to stay open, if they’re open at all.  Really, the only area west of the Mississippi that is doing well is the Tetons and Northern Rockies of Montana.  If next week’s pattern shapes up as models currently suggest, they could add to their totals.

WSF