November Snow Outlook (Sunday AM update)

Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 10:52 am

Sunday AM update (Nov 4):

Snow, and lots of it, looking likely late this week!

Models have been in fairly good agreement for several days but confidence continues to increase as we move closer to the event as the global models are less likely to back track from here on out. After a few more warm, dry days, the weather will change dramatically to a very cold, snowy pattern. Timing still looks like the initial front will move through Thursday night and snow levels will drop Friday to all valley floors. Good orographics and decent moisture behind the front will allow for snow to continue in the mountains and on and off in the valleys for much of Friday night and Saturday. Lake effect snow is also a very good bet with cold, moist air traveling over the relatively warm GSL–this is very hard to forecast so we’ll have to wait until we get closer before we make any exact lake effect forecasts, but be aware that the possibility exists for it.

Later we’ll have a full update where we’ll take a first look at potential snowfall totals. Hint: they have potential to be significant for all elevations.

Looking like we may see a couple more systems trying to dive into the area next week as well. The ski areas should open on time at least!



Saturday AM (Nov 3) update:

It’s the weekend — and what a wonderful weekend it will be weather-wise. Warm temps today and tomorrow with only light breezes. Temps will continue to warm through election day into the middle of the work week as high pressure continues to dominate. Pattern starts to change on Thursday as the ridge crashes and a trough moves into the Western U.S. This is looking like a very cold trough that has potential to be a significant snow producer for the Wasatch and should bring some snow to valley floors as well, including another shot at lake effect snow. There are still questions as to the exact track and strength of the system. EC is a little farther west with the system, bringing the best dynamics to the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada. The GFS drops it into the Great Basin with more favorable dynamics for Utah. Either way, we should see some snow in the ‘Satch with high snow:water ratios, so it could pile up rather quickly. As mentioned before, the cold airmass will allow for resorts to make snow around the clock starting on Friday. Timing currently looks like frontal passage late Thursday night, so Thursday will likely be mild and windy. Friday we’ll see the bulk of the precipitation but it may continue right into Saturday. Stay tuned….WSF

Friday (Nov 2) update:

Everything from yesterday’s discussion is still on track. Still questions as to the exact path and strength of next week’s system but it does appear that the pattern will be changing drastically once again to snowy and much colder weather. Current timing is that the front will move through either late Thursday or Early Friday. At worst, we will be colder with snow showers. At best, we’ll get a healthy dump of snow. Either way, resorts will be able to make snow with the cold air currently progged to move into the area. Enjoy the next six days or so of warm temps because winter will be returning soon!


Previous . . .

It is the dawn of a new month and an exciting one at that — November is generally when the Wasatch range starts building its snowpack and ski resorts throughout the area start turning their lifts. October was a month of teasers for the most part with the occasional dusting high up in the first two weeks of the month and then the third week we saw our first major system. That system favored the Northern Wasatch so PowMow, Snowbasin, and Wolf Mountain all received enough snow (40″ +) put down what will likely be a permanent base. It also allowed for some of the die hards, including yours truly, to get up there for the first turns of the season. However the Central and Southern Wasatch only saw 8-14″, and after a couple weeks of warm, dry weather, they will have to start from scratch.

Spent the better part of the last two hours pouring over charts and models and reading various discussions to try to reach a conclusion as to what we can reasonably expect during the month of November. I’ll start with what is obvious: We are going to be high and dry for the first week of the month. Today (Nov 1) we have a weak cold front approaching the area but it is almost completely dry and all it will do is what it is already doing as I look out my window–push in a few clouds and breezes and cool us down starting this evening. Tomorrow we will drop from the record high levels we’ve seen the last couple days to about normal. Then the ridge will build back in for the weekend through mid to late next week with temperatures again climbing well above average.

Beyond that things start to go from certain to possible. And the possibilities are exciting! What it looks like right now is that the ridge will fall victim to a trough diving out of the Gulf of AK. I think it’s safe to say that around Friday of next week (November 9) we’ll be seeing a change in the weather. We’ll likely see much cooler temperatures, probably dipping below normal, and a chance for snow in the mountains and rain/snow in the valleys. Right now we are a bit too far out to make any predictions as to how strong this system may be, but it does look fairly certain that the pattern will change back to more winter-like. Beyond the initial system for Friday-Saturday of next week, it becomes unclear whether we’ll stay active or return to ridging.

The rest of November becomes little more than guesswork, as any meteorologist worth their salt will tell you that long-range forecasting is little more than speculation. But it’s worth looking at. My best estimate based on a combination of upstream factors and the MJO is that we will have a dry first week of November (certain), stormy second week (likely), dryer third week (maybe?), and a return to unsettled weather for the last week of the month (who knows!). Again, this is just an educated guess so don’t go planning your Thanksgiving travel plans based on what I just said. Everything beyond about the 10th of November is totally up in the air, so to speak. What is encouraging is that last November we were sitting on the east side of blocking ridge that didn’t budge until January, and the only snow we saw early in the season was from weak systems diving down the east side of the ridge and clipping the area…. This year, however, there is still an Eastern Pacific high but it isn’t nearly as stubborn and is allowing for more progressive systems to enter the area. So hopefully we won’t fall into the same pattern that plagued us for so much of last season.

So there you have it! A first look at the month of November. Just had a look at the 12z model suite as it came in and everything still looks encouraging for the pattern change late next week. A good chance for decent snow and maybe more importantly, colder temperatures that will allow resorts to make snow in the week leading up to opening day.

Keep your fingers crossed and we’ll update daily as we approach next week’s pattern change.


P.S. If you’re looking for a seasonal outlook, it’s difficult to suggest anything too far from normal. MJO is fairly weak and I think it will play a factor in our WX eventually, but not so much yet. All other teleconnections are nearly neutral don’t really point to anything. So an average year is the best we can predict at this time. But an average year in Utah is better than good years in most other places!

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  • Steve

    Very nice discussion. I like to ski so am very interested in the outlook.