La Niña update…. Details emerging on Wednesday night/Thursday storm

Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 9:47 am

So it’s official, for the second consecutive winter, La Niña is influencing our weather. So does that mean another epic winter? Not necessarily.

In La Niña years, the sea surface temps in the equatorial Pacific are a few degrees cooler than normal, the opposite of El Niño.  So what does this mean? Typically during La Nina years in the western U.S., the farther north you go, the wetter you get.  For southern Utah, it typically means drier than normal weather, the Wasatch Front has about equal chance of above/below normal precip.  La Ninas can also have very cold arctic air outbreaks in the Great Basin, especially in the early season. This can cause lake effect snowstorms off the Great Salt Lake.  Lake Effect snow is caused by cold air passing over relatively warm water.  So early season, when the lake is still warm, is when these are more likely to occur.

The main difference from last year is that this La Nina is developing later and will likely not reach the same strength as last year.  Last year, the above/below average precip line was very defined and farther south than a typical La Nina, so if you were north of it (as the Wasatch Front was) then you saw extreme amounts of snow.  It is very hard to say for sure how the winter will pan out as there are so many other variables that go into the winter, but The Powder Hounds would put their money on a near-average precip year with slightly below normal tems and the winter season may start a little late and last a little farther into the spring.

Now to the current WX situation:

Today is going to be slightly cooler with highs around 80 for the Salt Lake Valley and around 70 in the Mountains.  It will also be breezy as a preliminary weak cool front approaches from the west.  Tomorrow will be similar temperature-wise but an increase in moisture will cause scattered afternoon and evening t-storms. Tuesday and Wednesday will be similar in temperature and pattern to Monday with afternoon convection, with Wednesday seeing high winds as a stronger low pressure system heads our way.  Precip should move into the area Wednesday night with snow levels starting out around 8K feet, they should fall throughout the event down to 7K on Thursday and 6K or lower post-front passage Thursday night.  Models continue to suggest the low will cut-off from the flow and park itself over north-west Utah.  This may prolong at least showery weather through friday and maybe the weekend. Preliminary QPF forecasts show 0.5 inches in favorable mountain locations through Thursday evening.  Likely to be another .5 inches or so Thur night and Friday.  Snow will be fairly wet with snow ratios around 10:1 (10 inches of snow for every 1 inch of liquid precip).  Highest elevations could see up to a foot by mid-day friday.  Snow for the valleys? Probably not, but wouldn’t be surprised to see a few wet snow flakes in cold, showery airmass on friday in bench locations.

We’ve been predicting this storm for over a week! Once again proving we are the Wasatch’s finest source for Snowcasting!

Climate Prediction Center shows cold/showery weather could continue into the following week.

We are excited to be giving you these updates! Snow is definitely on the way for Utah skiers/boarders!

…The Powder Hounds…

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