Turkey Break

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

Thanksgiving update:

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all! A quick update this morning before we settle into a day with the family and maybe a few ski laps before the big meal this afternoon. Last night the front went through with wind and clouds but little in the way of showers except for near the Idaho border. Some of the northern mountains got an inch of snow or less. We will clear out and warm up over the next two days before a front once again brushes the area on Saturday night into Sunday. We were hoping earlier this week that this would be a decent system, but unfortunately models have continued to want to take the best moisture and dynamics to our North and East. Logically, the farther North or East you are, the more likely you’ll be to see some snow above 6,000 ft. The Uintas and the far northern Wasatch could see 3-6 inches but Central Wasatch including the Cottonwoods and PC will likely only see 1-3″ unless we see a change to more westward storm track. The biggest impact will be to cool us down back to near or just below seasonal normals temp-wise. It will create good snowmaking conditions.

Next week the models have come into agreement that we’ll dry out (again) and ridge up for the middle of the week. Bad news. But the good news is that they have been relatively consistent in bringing a stronger pacific system into the Western U.S. for the first day or two of December. So we’ll keep an eye on the weekend of Dec. 1-2 for you, it could be a snowy one if models verify. Stay tuned . . .

Happy Gobbling!


Wednesday update:

A quick pre-holiday update today. Not much new to talk about. Winds will be the story today with clouds increasing ahead of a front which will brush the area this evening. Best we can hope for out of this is a quick rain shower in the valleys with light snow in the high elevations of the Wasatch, mainly north of I-80. We then clear out on Thanksgiving Day and that trend continues into the weekend.

Saturday night we’ll see a cold front dropping south into the area. A lot of questions as to how far south and how far west this front will make it. Each model has it’s own solution. If it goes northeast of us, we’ll likely only see a chance for light showers and a cool down. If it drops farther west and south, we could see at least some moderate mountain snowfall and a significant cool down to below normal temperatures for Monday and Tuesday of next week. Should at the very least cool us down enough to reinstate round-the-clock snowmaking for a few days. We’ll have to watch this scenario and see how it plays out.

After Tuesday of next week, there are a lot of questions. Some models try to continue dropping waves into the area from the north, others try to develop a large scale trough off the coast. Hopefully by the end of the meal tomorrow we’ll have some answers…. WSF


Tuesday update:

A look this morning at the charts still showing us being clipped by a system tomorrow afternoon and evening in Northern Utah. This should bring a foot of wind but only an inch or so of snow in the Northern Wasatch. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the busiest travel day of the year traditionally and the main impacts for Utah with be wind. The wind will be strong, but we’re no stranger to wind so don’t think the impacts will be all that great. Thursday we should start to clear out and see winds die down for Turkey Day.

Attention then turns to a pattern change for the end of the weekend. At this time it looks like a cold front will drop into the area early Sunday morning. This will likely usher in cold air behind the front though the airmass along the front will still be mild. Due to the overland trajectory of this system, moisture may be at a premium. Because of this, it is unlikely we’ll see much more than light accumulations in the Wasatch. We do have the potential for lake effect once again if things come together but that is a difficult factor to forecast this far out.

We are hoping that the main impact of this early Sunday-Monday system will be to cool us off and open the storm door. It is still difficult to look that far ahead, but there are signs that that jet could drop south and send stronger storms our way over the last couple days of November into the first week of December. We outlined this in yesterday’s discussion (below) if you’d like further reading. For now we just wait and see how the upcoming pattern change evolves. Stay tuned . . .



It would be a stretch to call this last weekend a storm cycle, but whatever it was, it is now over. Yesterday’s wave, which was looking in all models to be the strongest, ended up weakening considerably and moving too far north to do much more than an inch or two for most resorts. It was definitely a dud. But the earlier waves on Friday and Saturday nights both did better than expected so we still saw 4-10″ in the Wasatch over the 72 hour period. Can’t complain too much considering how unorganized these waves were.

That little amount of snow will have to hold us over as the next week looks pretty dry and warm. The ridge is already building over the area and will continue to do so through Wednesday when a system will brush the area to the north. At best, we could have a couple scattered showers on Wednesday night, but nothing significant to affect ski conditions or travel plans. We will then ridge up again for most of the weekend.

Models have now latched on to the idea that we mentioned briefly over the last couple discussions of a trough breaking down the ridge around the 25th or 26th. There is still disagreement between the models but what does seem clear is that it will be a cold trough dropping south. Usually these types of troughs are moisture starved and that seems to be the case with this one if we look at the latest run of the GFS. Still way too early to pinpoint exact timing or amounts but best guess now would be late Sunday into Monday. The hope is that even if this initial trough isn’t a major system, it will cool the atmosphere and open the storm door. That idea is reflected in the Week 2 precipitation anomalies for Nov 26-Dec 2:

As you can see the Western U.S. looks likely to continue under the storm train and that trend continues into week 3, Dec 3-9:

We’ve had a few comments over the last few days about how the last few posts have been sounding more and more like last year… Well fear not, we might be having a bit of a dry spell but there is already an end in sight. And from a meteorological standpoint, this year is nothing like last year. Last year we had a massive blocking ridge in the Eastern Pacific that left us with virtually no hope of decent storms dumping on Utah. In fact, for a storm to reach us at all, it had to be ejected into Alaska, then drop down the Canadian Rockies. By the time it got to Utah there was little if nothing left for us. This year, the Pacific is active and there is no such ridge, so any breaks, like the one we are seeing this week, should be relatively short-lived. Enjoy your Thanksgiving week! Eat lots of food! Spend time with friends and family! And get ready for snow to return next week.


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3 thoughts on “Turkey Break

  1. Steve

    The GFS model seems to be all over the place as to what will happen 8-16 days out. Any thoughts? Of course, I’m antsy as I have trip to utah scheduled on Dec. 6. Hoping the floodgates open.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Well, Steve, the GFS beyond day 7 does little more than give you a general idea. After about Tuesday of next week, anything can happen. But a negative PNA and the CFS forecasts lead me to believe that sooner or later those floodgates will open. Let’s hope for sooner!

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