An historic weather day along the Wasatch Front

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Quick update for those of you following the saga with the models… Latest run of EC still pinches the trough a bit, but is trending toward the GFS little by little.

Quick Friday AM update:

Just took a look over the OOz EC and it still closes off the low and drops it to our west then south. It isn’t quite as drastic as yesterday’s run but does lend credence to the idea. Guess that it will end up being a combination of the GFS and Euro… which would still bring us good snowfall from late Sunday-Tuesday. More this evening…

Thursday Night:

Many, if not most, areas of the Wasatch front saw significant freezing rain this morning which caused a nightmarish morning commute. We knew there was a chance for it due to the warm mid-layers and freezing cold basins, but freezing rain in Utah is incredibly hard to forecast. 9/10 times you think there’s a chance for it, it doesn’t materialize. In fact, this was the most significant freezing rain event in SLC since 1983. At least yesterday, I was smart enough to make mention of it so many of you were prepared, or at least not surprised, when you started sliding uncontrollably on your way to work today 😉

As for the mountains, they didn’t really get hit too hard. The snow rates stayed very light for much of the morning so although it snowed for most of the day, most locations only received a few inches. My original inclination with this system yesterday morning was to only forecast 1-3″ but after seeing yesterday’s model runs I decided to bump those numbers up. Should have trusted the instincts… “Ridge busting” systems are notorious under-performers. We will likely still see some snow showers fire up overnight tonight that could add an inch or two, and reports from some of you who did make it up to the hill today were very favorable–so I wouldn’t call this storm a bust. Unfortunately, it did very little to clear out the inversions which are still holding strong. There was, at one point this morning, a 20 degree discrepancy between my house in Draper and the top of Suncrest (elevations of about 4600′ and 6500′ respectively). My house was 21 degrees while Suncrest was 41. As the crow flies they are only about a mile apart. This is what caused the freezing rain.

The next system will affect mainly Southern Utah on Friday night and Saturday as a moisture plume with tropical origins ejects northeast into the state. Above 8,000 feet, S. Utah could see 4-8″ of snow… Up north in the Wasatch, I don’t expect much more than an inch or two with lots of clouds.

The real interesting system is still timing for late Sunday-Tuesday. The models still are having their issues aligning as the Euro is now trying to cut-off the trough a bit again. Right now, I’m going to stick with the more consistent GFS as the 18z run looked similar to all other runs today. I’d expect the initial cold front to move through Sunday night, this will bring with it a solid amount of snow and cold air. Snow showers should linger during the day on Monday into Monday night. A secondary disturbance then looks to move into the area on Tuesday and fires up more widespread snow again with snow showers lingering from that wave into Wednesday. It should be noted, however, that if today’s 12z run of the ECMwF (Euro) is correct, we would be looking at very little snow.

After Wednesday, we should see a break… GFS has hinted at another disturbance for about Saturday but it doesn’t look strong at this point even if it verifies. My guess is we’ll have a break that will last for the most part through the first week of February. After that, we might see more significant troughing developing in the West.


P.S. We’ll have to wait till the morning to see the next Euro run and see if this was just a fluke run or if it’s on to something… Let’s hope it’s a fluke!

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  • Steve

    Really hoping that was a fluke. Seems very odd. NWS discussion said it was a complete turnaround.

    • I just checked it out… haha. I’m glad to see they are just as confused as I am. It was quite a change, but not totally without precedent as the Euro was showing a similar solution earlier this week. I’m really anxious to see the 00z run in the morning.

  • Kenny

    Is it just me or does the NAM at 84 hours out look very similar to the Euro?

    • Kenny

      Maybe I’m just paranoid. I’m headed out there on Saturday for a snowboard trip and am crossing my fingers for significant snow.

      • Hmmm… NAM still looks more like the GFS to my eyes… Let’s hope it stays that way.

  • Matt

    Are GFS and Euro at odds still? And if so, am I mistaken or have the GFS and Euro now both flipped outlooks (with the Euro having flipped twice) this week? Is there still a decent chance for a foot between Sun-Tues? Sorry for the novice questions…

    • You are correct. They were at odds, then flip flopped completely… then finally started to align yesterday/this morning… now they are at odds again. At first the GFS was the most favorable for us, then the Euro, now it’s the GFS again. Messing with forecaster sanity, which in turn, messes with the sanity of our readers.

  • Matt

    Thanks again, WSF. Like Kenny, I’m just paranoid (headed out to SLC next Tues night) — and just hope against hope this is something more than one big dust on crust event.

  • Steve

    Curious what you think about the 00UTC. Just looked at the 00UTC GFS and NAM, because I still can’t figure out how to look at the ECMWF and it looks like a decrease on precip, but not gone. Hoping the 12Z ECMWF is wrong.