Looking forward . . . (Wednesday update)

Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Wednesday, Oct 31 update:

Happy Halloween! Weather should be perfect tonight for trick or treaters with warmer than average temperatures and no precipitation in sight. Tomorrow night a weak cold front will move through the area bring some clouds, breezes, a very slight chance of a high elevation snow shower, but mostly just cooler temps for Friday and Saturday before we start to warm back up. We should stay quiet through the first half of next week with warm weather.

I mentioned yesterday that if we did see a return to active weather, it may occur during the second week of November (8th-15th). That still looks like a possibility as the GFS has been showing a cold trough diving south into the area around the 9th. The ECMWF also showed this scenario yesterday but was farther west with the Low. EC totally backed off from the idea in last night’s run, but the GFS hangs on to that solution. GEM drops the Low all the way down the west coast to SoCal but drags a cold front through Utah late next week. These solutions all vary to a great degree and it’s no surprise as we are almost ten days out from this event so we’ll just have to keep an eye and see if they align in the coming days.

Stay tuned . . .


Tuesday (October 30) update:

Warm, quiet weather continues in Utah. Webcams have shown significant melting of the snow that fell last week at area resorts. Snow still remains in the shady bowls and north facing slopes but exposed areas are now showing dirt. Expect that trend to continue. Cold front will move into the west coast tomorrow but by the time it reaches Northern Utah on Thursday night it will have lost significant energy and only light, widely scattered showers are expected with snow levels well above valleys. Don’t expect anything more than a dusting for the highest elevations.
Cold front will cool the area down by 15 degrees or so for Friday but we should ridge up and warm up again by the end of the weekend.

First week of November looks like a continuation of warm, dry weather for Election Week. Our next chance for significant snowfall appears to be the second week of November as long-range fantasy charts are suggesting a possible retrogression of the large-scale ridge. This is a long way off, so for right now it is only speculation of the next “chance” for winter weather.

Aside from the small chance of snow Thursday night, it looks like an extended period of at least 10 days of dry weather. Unfortunately, it won’t be cold enough to make much snow either and the snow we currently have will dwindle. We’ll likely be starting mostly from scratch when snow does return to the area.

Stay tuned . . . hopefully the models latch onto something soon.


Sunday PM update:

After such a hectic week last week, we’ve quieted down considerably, with mostly sunny skies, seasonably warm temps, and light breezes. Perfect Fall weather in my opinion, although I never object to snow. It will stay like this… well actually continue to warm up through midweek. By Wednesday, high temps should be 5-10 degrees above normal. Southwest winds will increase on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the next front which looks to move into Northern Utah on Thursday evening. This system will weaken and split as it moves ashore and slams against the ridge currently in place for the intermountain west. Due to this weakening, we expect a relatively weak system, with only a few inches at best in the high elevations. Snow levels should remain above 7 or 8K feet. Models starting to agree beyond this frontal passage as well, with the ridge building back in for at least next weekend. A zonal flow will stream impulses into the Pacific Northwest and British Colombia but they should remain well to our north.

Sorry, no major snows in the forecast.



Saturday AM update:

Not too much new to update today. Mostly sunny skies will dominate the area with a few clouds near the Idaho border with a low pressure system brushing the far northern reaches of Utah. Cool temps will remain today but it will be warmer than yesterday. This warming trend with continue well into early next week with high temps climbing above average throughout the area by mid-week. Snow is going to melt and settle in the high elevations that received it. Next trough with start to approach the area late in the work week. Models offer various solutions on timing and strength but the consensus is that this system will have a tough time fully breaking down the strong high pressure ridge and will lose energy as it moves in off the Pacific coast. It is also a more zonal system with much less cold air to work with so snow level will be higher. Not looking like a major system by any means. The big question right now is whether it will act as a utility to break down the ridge and make way for more systems, or will the ridge re-build afterward for more warm, dry weather. We’ll have to keep an eye on that. For now, enjoy the Fall weather and expect a clear and mild Halloween.


P.S. “Frankenstorm” Sandy still churning in the Atlantic. Keep an eye on it . . . Landfall expected Monday night or Tuesday


Making a quick update today (Friday) to make mention of something that does not affect Utah snow/weather but rather the weather and safety of folks in the mid-Atlantic. Hurricane Sandy is looking increasingly likely to make landfall on the East Coast between Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod, most likely as a Cat 1 hurricane. A Cat 1 may not sound that strong but these are major population centers that are not used to hurricanes like the Gulf Coast is. So if you live in the area or have friends and family, you might make sure they are taking the steps to prepare. A google search of “hurricane preparation” should give a good list of steps to be taken. Can’t hurt to stock up on some water, canned food, and batteries for flash lights now before the major rush this weekend. Just a heads up if you weren’t already aware.


We are now wrapping up this week’s long advertised and long duration storm system. We’ve been talking about this storm system since last Sunday, October 14 believe it or not. If you don’t believe it, click on archived posts. It seems like forever, but as of 4:20 PM on Thursday, things are finally drawing to a close. There seems to be little in the way of a lake effect band forming and the one from earlier today dissipated hours ago, but not before dropping upwards of 6 inches over parts of the Central Wasatch. There is still a chance of banding this evening and spotty convective type showers, but nothing significant. If you’re new to WSF, we usually try to analyze a storm system after it’s over to compare what happened versus what we had forecasted — it’s the best way to learn.

So this storm came in three waves. The first two, Monday and Tuesday nights, favored the northern Wasatch. With Powder Mountain receiving over 30″ of snow by Wednesday morning. Snowbasin wasn’t far behind. Meanwhile, areas south of I-80 got the snub with only a few inches at best above 8,000 ft. Last night however, decent orographics and one final, colder wave of energy moved into the region and finally gave the entire Wasatch a decent snow. PowMow and Snowbasin added to their already impressive totals and finished at close to 40″ of snow! The Cottonwoods and Park City made valiant attempts to catch up but it wasn’t to be–with most resorts finishing with between 8-14″ of snow. Our forecast was 8-16″ for most of last week, but we bumped that up on Sunday night to 10-20″ with up to 2 feet possible as confidence increased. Looking back, had we stuck with the 8-16″ forecast, we would have been almost dead on. But as it is, we barely made it to the low end of that range in the Central Wasatch. Farther north, obviously had better luck, obliterating our prediction.

What we are left with now is a cold airmass that will stick around tonight, tomorrow, and for the first part of the weekend. Expect the coldest nights of the season with hard freezes the next few nights for all locations. So if you haven’t winterized your house yet, now is the time to do it. Literally, Right Now! In fact, we’ll wait while you drain your sprinkler system before we look ahead to our next chance for snow . . . .

Waiting . . .

Ok, now that you’re done. Let’s take a look ahead. Both the Euro and the GFS have been advertising a quick warm-up this weekend with heights rising and pushing any Pacific moisture well to our north by early next week. Then, both models show another trough dropping into the West by Thursday or Friday of next week. Runs have been consistent in showing this for several days now, but have varied on how deep the trough will be–which is critical to how strong and cold the system may be. So there are a lot of questions, but as of right now, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing an extended “Indian Summer” but rather just a break, and an opportunity for Powder Mountain and Snowbasin to dig out and maybe prepare for an opening . . . ? Let’s hope ski resorts take advantage of the cold temps the next two days to make snow before the warm-up begins.

The long-range outlook is that we may see an extended period of dry weather arriving following the first week of November. CFSv2 has recently been showing drier-than-normal anomalies for Week 3 and 4. MJO is now a factor as it was strengthening and moving through Phase 1 and 2 toward 3 and 4. These are not overly favorable MJO phases for us, often creating cool and dry weather. Teleconnections are not telling me much right now as they are conflicting on whether they point to wet vs. dry conditions. So for now, let’s just focus on what we know, and that is that we are going to warm up starting this weekend before a chance for snow returns, at least to the mountains, late next week.

Stay tuned . . .


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  • Ray

    Hiked from bottom of empire to top of lift and came down one of the groomers. Easily 12″ in almost everywhere, probably average of 15″. Snowing well again at 630

    • Cody

      HA! I work at stein eriksen lodge and I was watching a couple skiiers come down that run at exactly that time.. did you have a dog with you? I also saw a little snow cat drive by and stop to talk to you guys for a minute. How was the snow? it looked like there was a lot of man-made snow on top of the real snow