El Nino developing as expected . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Quick Tuesday AM update:

Just a quick update to mention that we saw snow above 9,000 ft or so in parts of the Wasatch overnight.  Webcam images suggest as much as two or three inches in LCC.  It was fully expected as we’ve been mentioning for the last week or so that we’d likely see a dusting in the high mountains, but still nice to see all the same.  A few readers have commented that they don’t want to see snow now because it will weaken the snowpack.  I don’t generally agree with that philosophy.  Last year we had a large snowstorm the first week of October that put down 18″+ on the upper mountain.  Then we saw nothing until mid-November, so shady northern slopes did weaken and proved to be a disaster for most of the first half of the winter.  That scenario is very unlikely as usually October snowstorms don’t go 40 days or more just sitting there.  It usually melts off or gets covered by more snow within a couple weeks.  So if we do get a large snowstorm followed by a month of cool, dry weather, then I would be concerned for the stability of the snowpack.  For now, I wouldn’t worry too much.

After some more rain and high elevation snow showers this morning, we should start to clear out this evening. Tonight will be the coldest night of the year so far with a hard freeze possible in some of the mountain valleys. The rest of the week will still be seasonably cool but we will gradually warm up to close to 80 in the valley by the weekend and 70 in the mountains.  At this point there is no clear next chance for precip, my guess is that we’ll have a ten day or so break before the next weak fall system affects us but that’s a long way out so we’ll just keep an eye out for you.  Until then, enjoy the fall weather and the awesome colors in the mountains which should be peaking this week!

Get stoked! Winter’s coming!


Monday morning update:

Low is slowly tracking East into Utah this morning.  As the low approaches, rain showers will develop this afternoon into this evening.  Cooler temperatures already in place across the area.  Expect snow showers above 10,000 ft tonight.  We’ll start to clear out tomorrow and warm up throughout the week.

Friday Morning update:

Everything is still on track for a cool pacific low pressure system to affect the area on Monday and Tuesday.  This will bring the coolest temps of the year so far with highs in the valleys struggling to reach 70 on Monday/Tuesday and mountains will be in the 50s.  It’s going to feel a lot like Autumn, just in time too as the astronomical start to Fall is tomorrow morning.  Along with the cooler temps, showers and even a few thunderstorms will be likely on Monday and Monday night.  Snow levels will start out above most mountain peaks on Monday but will fall behind the front on Monday night and snowflakes will be possible down to 10,000 ft.  Don’t expect more than a dusting to an inch, but it will be nice to see all the same.

Everybody has their pre-season “Pray for Snow” superstitions…. I personally grow out a scraggly beard between the first Wasatch snowfall and the day the first lifts start turning.  So if we get some snow on the peaks next week, time to put away the razor for awhile.  We’ve already heard from readers of trail maps in the freezer and burning old skis, what’s your special way of summoning the snow?  Whatever it is, WSF is open to all the help mother nature can get.

Pray for Snow!



Two main stories to talk about today.  First, we have a low pressure system that will be affecting the Great Basin and Wasatch early next week with cooler temps, clouds, breezy conditions and a few showers.  Second,  and probably more importantly in the grand scheme of things, El Nino has been developing as expected; however, models are now indicating it could be a bit stronger of an El Nino than they were suggesting a couple weeks ago.

So we’ve mentioned over the past few days that we could have a chance for showers coming early next week thanks to a cut-off low that will meander east across the Great Basin on Monday and Tuesday.  That system is still on track but there is still some uncertainty as to the exact track and how much moisture we can pull up.  As of right now, there isn’t enough confidence to call for anything besides a “chance” for showers in Northern Utah on Monday and Tuesday. As for temps, they will cool off by 10-15 degrees across the area from this weekend’s high temperatures.  Will we see enough cool air/moisture to get any snow in the higher elevations?  It’s certainly possible, but it will likely be above 11,000 ft and I would doubt it will be more than a dusting.  Just a teaser at best.

As for El Nino…  ONI indices are strengthening as expected, in other words, El Nino is coming to fruition slowly but surely.  It will probably be at least another month until we have a fully-fledged El Nino.  Latest model forecasts have also suggested that it could reach moderate strength by the time it peaks in about January or February.  If you refer back to some of our ENSO discussions from earlier this summer, the stronger the El Nino, the more moisture systems can pull up from the tropical Pacific.  Storms in a stronger El Nino also have a tendency to push farther south, impacting So. Cal and the desert Southwest.  So I’m not sold that a stronger El Nino is necessarily a good thing.  Still a lot up in the air with regards to other climo factors but overall I’m liking what I’m seeing, especially when you compare it to last year.

After the early week system, both the Euro and GFS have at times been showing a more active pattern developing as we head into October.  Systems may start to impact the Pacific northwest and may potentially clip the area with clouds, wind, cooler temps, and a chance for rain and possibly snow.  This is a very typical fall pattern as the jet stream strengthens and starts to drop farther south.  Just hoping we don’t get stuck in a blocking pattern like we did last year.  It will be interesting to see how it develops–it always is.

Stay tuned….


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2 thoughts on “El Nino developing as expected . . .

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Well blocking patterns are normal in the summer months. I’m just hoping we don’t spend the large part of the winter in one like we did last year. That was truly unbearable.

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