Welcome to Fall

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Tuesday update:

We have our last really warm day today before cooler weather arrives tomorrow.  This is a dry front, any precipitation associated with it will remain well to the East.  However, temps will drop 10-15 degrees tomorrow, and a further 5 degrees or so on Thursday over Northern Utah.  Highs will actually be below normal for a change.  Reinforcing shots of cool air will keep us cool through the weekend.  It will feel like Fall for sure though any repeats of the snow from last week look unlikely at this time.

Beyond the weekend, there is little to no model consistency.  A closed low will hover off the California coast and a few model runs have suggested it could slowly meander inland.  The exact track and timing of this low is still a total mystery.  At best, it could drift over Utah middle of next week and give us a chance for a few light showers.  The blocking pattern looks likely to hold for at least the next ten days so no major storms in the forecast.  The cool weather this week will kick start the changing of leaves in the lower valleys.  Pray for Snow!


Sunday update:

Well above average temperatures have been the main story for the last few days.  That is expected to change on Wednesday and beyond as a cold system will drop out of Canada into the interior sections of the United States.  Most of the energy will stay to our east and we’ll see little more than clouds, but temperatures will take a serious dive, dropping 10-15 degrees over Northern Utah.  After the front moves through, the intermountain west well be under a long-wave trough that will allow disturbances to periodically move through the area.  These are likely not to be precip producers, but will rather bring with them a few clouds and reinforcing shots of cooler temperatures through next weekend.  So enjoy the warmth for the next couple days before Autumn makes it’s return on Wednesday.  At this time, there is nothing in the future that screams, “snow”, but this time of year models have a difficult time dealing with global pattern changes as we transition seasons, and sometimes storms can pop up when we don’t expect them.  Until then, enjoy the beautiful Fall weather.


Friday update:

Allowing for a few more model runs seems to have painted a clearer picture of late next week.  It looks like a cool system will begin dropping into the Northern plains from Canada during the middle of next week.  At first, models were showing this feature farther west, affecting us.  However it seems now that it is too far east to bring us much more than a few clouds and slightly cooler temps.  However, that system will force some retrogressing of the ridge that has dominated West coast weather for so long, allowing a long wave trough to settle into parts of the intermountain west for next weekend.  At this time, there is nothing to suggest anything more than a chance for light rain and high elevation snow.  Nothing significant.  But it will cool us down closer to normal by the end of next week.  Until then, we’ll be a solid 5-10 degrees above average throughout the state.

Fall colors are in full effect now with the yellows of the aspen combining with the reds of the scrub oak to create the gorgeous scenes that only Utah can produce.  Here’s a photo (taken from a cell phone) from a hike just yesterday:

Another shot:

Get out and enjoy the colors while they last.



*Thursday 12z runs not showing nearly as organized a system as yesterday’s runs… so are chances for snow may not be as strong as we hoped.  more later . . .

Thursday AM update:

The area has gradually quieted down over the last 48 hours with clouds clearing out.  Locations with less cloud cover last night cooled off the quickest with temps in some mountain valleys dipping down near or slightly below freezing.  Today through this weekend we are still expecting continued drying and warming.  A very weak system will pass to our north on Saturday and bring us a few more clouds than other days with a slight chance for showers near the Idaho border.  Other than that, we’ll be high and dry for the next 7 days.

Beyond the next week, however, both the Euro and GFS have been showing a closed low affecting the area late next week.  There has been a lot of discrepancy between the two models both with timing and strength of the system but that is to be expected this far out.  As of right now, it appears like the system will most likely affect us next Friday, October 5.  It has potential to be a bit stronger and colder than this last system, but it’s so far out as of now that it is just going to be earmarked as something for us to keep an eye on.

On October 5, 2011 we had a strong Fall system move into the area and drop up to 18 inches in the high elevations.  That snow then spent the next 40 days or so melting and refreezing in shady areas on north-facing slopes.  By the time we saw any more significant accumulations, it was sitting on a very weak base that made backcountry and sidecountry access sketchy almost all season long.  So we can pray for snow, but we should hope it continues to snow on top of that so we don’t end up in the same scenario.



Tuesday PM:

An exciting day for Utah skiers and boarders! Autumn officially began on Saturday, but it finally felt like Fall today with the first snow of the season.  Most of last night’s snowfall fell as the low passed over the area overnight and snow continued this morning with wrap around moisture.  Snowbasin and Powder Mountain were a little too far north and away from the center of the low to get as much precip as we saw in the PC and SLC areas.  Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon resorts saw snow mostly above 9,000 ft. with 4″+ at the top of the mountain.  Temps obviously cooled off with highs in the valleys only in the mid-60s, with 40s and 50s in the mountains.

The area will continue to clear out tonight and we’ll see a noticeable warm-up tomorrow with temperatures near the seasonal normals in the mid-70s for the lower valleys and 60s for the mountains.  The drying/warming trend will continue as we head toward the weekend with temperatures climbing to 5-10 degrees above normal by Saturday and Sunday.  The snow that fell today won’t stand a chance and it should completely melt off in the next couple days.  Rex block is progged to strengthen in the Gulf of AK over the next week keeping the West coast dry for at least the next 10 days.  The only shot we’ll have for more rain/snow in Northern Utah is the occasional weak system dropping south from the Canadian Rockies down the east side of the ridge.  This pattern is typical of Fall and is generally provides warm, Indian Summer conditions.  In a normal year, the Jet Stream strengthens through the Autumn months before we finally see an undercutting of the westerlies in late-October/November.  Last year, however, we didn’t see any significant undercutting of the Rex Block high pressure until mid-January, putting us way behind our normal snowfall.  And, of course, we were never able to totally catch up.  If you recall, however, we did retrograde the ridge west enough in the middle of November 2011 to bring us a couple moderate storms and cool weather.  Just enough to open the ski areas on time.  Then the ridge shifted east again and we saw hardly a snowflake for the following 60 days.  It was depressing, to say the least.

But hopefully this year will be different.  Currently, there is no consistent sign of undercutting in the long-range forecast models.  WSF is not worried as this is normal and it is still very early.  Our best guess is that we’ll see similar retrograding over the next few weeks which will allow some weak systems to drop down into the area from time to time before the Jet strengthens enough to bring us the large dumps that we are used to in Utah.  Hopefully that will come in time for scheduled opening days! Pray for Snow!

Stay tuned,


P.S. If you read the post from the other day, I spoke of my personal “ritual” of not shaving from the first snow until the first lifts turn in the Wasatch.  With this early snow, it’s going to get ugly if we don’t get any early openings at the resorts.  But it’s the only way I can get my wife to want snow as much as I do.  😉

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