Watching, Waiting, and Hoping

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

Tuesday evening quick update:

Just a quick update… 12z and 18z runs continue to show a decently strong wave moving into Utah late Sunday into Monday… Looks like we’ll be getting at least some snow after all! Let’s hope they don’t change their mind.

Tuesday AM Update:

Yesterday’s update reflected my frustration that the models refused to cooperate. I’ll admit it was a little negative, but I want snow more than anybody, and I had high hopes for this system initially. Unlike yesterday, today seems to have brought good news. Over the past 24 hours the GFS developed a trend toward earlier EC runs and GEM runs that suggested that by the end of the weekend, the broad upper trough would collapse into the Great Basin. What that means for us is that all models still keep the bulk of the precip to our north through Sunday morning, but then we’ll have our shot at snow on Sunday and Monday. Northern Utah should still see plenty of clouds, breezy conditions, and occasional high elevation snow showers with a chance for rain showers in the valleys Thursday thru Saturday . The farther north you are the more likely you’ll be to see these showers. Then, on Sunday, the trough will collapse causing it to weaken, deepen and progress eastward. This is good news for us as it should bring us a shot at snow late Sunday and Monday. Snow levels should still be above 6,000 ft, so rain for the lower valleys. Interestingly the EC has actually backed away from this idea a bit but we think the GFS has a good handle on it.

This illustrates the difference from yesterday in GFS’s predicted precip for Utah:

If you scroll down to yesterday’s post you’ll see the version from 24 hours ago. Today’s run bring much more precip into Northern Utah. Let’s hope the GFS continues to hold on to this idea.

Another good sign is that the last few runs of the GFS have kept systems moving into the area for late next week into the following week. Now this is fantasy land and it’s impossible to say this will verify with any confidence, but it’s nice to see all the same.

We’ll keep you updated as the models continue to get a better grasp on the weekend’s storm . . .



Monday Morning update:

A look at the models today isn’t exactly full of good news. Most ensembles still show most moisture to our west and north with only occasional impulses clipping northern Utah through the weekend. Very frustrating as it’s such a large system, that if we could get it to dig a little deeper or progress a little farther east, we would see decent snowfall. As of right now things aren’t looking stellar for us but lets hope for a change over the coming days. Here’s a look at the GFS predicted precip over the next week:

As you can see, most of the good precip is progged to fall north and west of us. We’ll see how it plays out . . .



We’ve mentioned the chance of a pattern change for the last several days beginning at the end of the upcoming work week. This still looks likely but there are a lot of questions as to just what that means for us in Utah. We’ll start with what is a certainty and then get into what is possible.

What we know for sure is that a ridge with be strengthening over the area through mid-week. This will mean mostly sunny skies and warm temps, especially for the higher elevations. The valleys will be inverted so they won’t be as quick to warm up and may become hazy. We should then start an increase in clouds late on Wednesday through Thursday. This will be a warm, moist southwesterly flow that will develop over the area as a trough of low pressure drops down from the Gulf of AK off the Pacific NW coastline. We may see a few showers in the mountains as early as Wednesday night/Thursday but it will be very light and snow levels should be high. Another thing we know for sure is that areas to our west like Northern California are going to be inundated by an atmospheric ‘firehose’. Models have been showing 5-day QPF totals of up to 10 inches along the Sierra Nevada Crest. Remember, that is liquid precipitation, not snow. Snow levels there will be very high given the tropical moisture source, so above 8,000 ft in the Sierra, it is easily possible for them to see 5-8+ feet of snow. Impressive…. IF it verifies.

What is uncertain is the trajectory and strength of said “firehose” as it crosses the Great Basin. The hose never is nearly as strong this far from the Pacific Ocean or this far from its parent Low, so no matter what, Utah won’t see the same kind of precipitation that the Sierra Nevada is likely to see. Models have been struggling mightily with how much inland progression we see of impulses as they rotate around the parent Low. Certain runs of certain models have shown a significant weather event for Utah, while other runs of the same or different models have shown little precip in Utah. As of right now, the best way to break it down is into a 5 day event starting Thursday (Nov. 29) and continue to Monday (Dec. 3). We can just broadbrush the whole timeframe by saying that we’ll have increasing chances of valley rain and mountain snow each day starting Thursday. While this does have potential to be a good, long-duration storm for Utah. It also has a lot of difficult-to-predict factors that could make it a total dud. For now we’ll just have to watch and wait and see if we get some type of model consensus over the next few days.

If you can’t handle the uncertainty of not knowing… maybe a road trip to Tahoe is in order? You’ll be able to ski multiple feet of wet cement at the top of the mountain and stand in the rain at the base. 😉

But, whatever happens, we will keep you updated.


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22 thoughts on “Watching, Waiting, and Hoping

  1. Steve

    The last 3 runs of the GFS seem to have a lot of the action just to the north of the SLC area. And I only know enough to look at the colors on the model maps, but curious as to your take. it seemed previously the whole complex made it’s way west over utah. Now it seems to be edging north.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Yes, you are right, Steve. That is what we meant when we mentioned the “trajectory” of the moisture hose. We’ll have to keep an eye on that. If the Low moves closer inland or digs farther south, that would change the angle of the “hose” and point it farther south toward us. Let’s hope!

  2. Dave

    Aaarrgghhh! Meteorologically the pattern this year is totally different from this time last year. Yet the result is looking similar. Is there hope this season? Or am I just flipping out?

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      The pattern is definitely different than last year, but we’ve been under a fairly persistent ridge for a few weeks now. Let’s hope that deep trough in the Eastern Pacific progresses inland.

      1. James

        I am wonder if those two storms we had will be our ONLY two storms untill next winter season.. is that really possible?

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Logic, James. Even in our worst seasons, we still see 200+” of snow at most area resorts. And I still feel like we’ll have an average winter. 300-500″ of snow in the Wasatch. There is zero chance of us going through the entire winter with no snow.

  3. Steve

    The latest NWS Discussion section said that the 12Z Euro model was calling for the Sunday system to be a bit stronger than previously thought. In looking at the 18Z GFS, it seems to be showing the same thing. Of course, the GFS also seems to remove much hope prior to Sunday of any significant snow falling. But at least it shows some hope. Thoughts?

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      You hit the nail on the head, Steve. GEM model’s been showing that for several runs… 12z EC jumped on board and now GFS shows that too. Wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen but it’s a bit early to get too excited. If the 0z and 6z GFS still show that tomorrow, as well as the 00z Euro, then I think it will be safe to make mention of it in tomorrow’s discussion.

  4. Steve

    Crossing fingers and toes. Thanks for your thoughts. It’s good to know I’m not totally out in left field on this stuff.

  5. Alex

    I thought there were a lot of pessimistic people in these comments until I realized they all came from one James. I’m loving WSF. I moved out here a month ago and it has basically become my homepage. Keep up the good work and bring us good news soon! 😀

  6. Steve

    They better not change (unless for the better ) or I’m going to start sounding like James. Or even worse.

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