Saturday PM update:
Everything still looking good! Winter Weather Advisories hoisted for all of Northern Utah. I expect snow to move into the area from north to south tomorrow afternoon. Precip in lower valleys should start out as rain but change to snow by evening. Snow should then start to clear out by Monday morning with just a few lingering snow showers during the day Monday. We expect 6-12″ of snow in the high Wasatch, with up to 6″ in mountain valleys and benches and a few inches possible on the lower valleys floors. Monday should be a really good powder day, especially if you can get up there early and get first chair.
Still think a reinforcing wave on Tuesday will bring at least a few more inches to the mountains . . . More tomorrow!
GFS and ECMWF (Euro) are still showing differences but we still think a compromise between the two is the most likely scenario. GFS keeps the trough fairly consolidated with three distinct waves. Euro splits the system and doesn’t show the trailing waves as well as the GFS. Feel the following is the best bet.
Today: Snow for southern Utah with only light showers in the Wasatch. S. Utah could see 3-6″ above 8,000 feet while the Northern half of the state will see little if any accumulation.
Sunday afternoon through Monday AM: Main cold front associated with a trough dropping out of the Gulf of AK will enter Utah and bring widespread snow to the area. Mountain locations should see 5-10" from this initial front by the end of the day on Monday. Monday should be a good ski day!
Tuesday-Wednesday: A secondary impulse will enter the area from the north and re-invigorate snowfall. Another 3-6" looks possible from this but details are still sketchy as the Euro hardly shows this wave at all. Tuesday and Wednesday both have potential to be good ski days too!
Thursday: GFS has a third disturbance moving into the area. I have a lot of doubts about whether this will happen at all, but if it does, it could bring a few more inches.
Overall from Sunday-Wednesday, I expect the Wasatch to see 6-16" of snow, with the highest amounts falling on northwest facing slopes. Not a huge storm by any means but much needed.
Confidence in the long term is very low currently. Euro and GFS both establish a ridge. GFS centers it over the west coast and drops weak waves down the east side of the ridge through next weekend that could keep the pattern active in Utah, albeit with only light snow. The Euro centers the ridge a bit farther east and therefore forces any overriding energy generally east of the area. With the Euro’s solution, we would be very unlikely to see any additional snow late next week and would have a greater chance of redeveloping inversions (though they wouldn’t be nearly as strong).
Both models, as of right now, want to retrograde the ridge enough for a system to move into the northern Great Basin around the 4th or 5th of February. Have almost zero confidence in this solution right now as the models have struggled so much with the short term that it’s hard to trust the longer term. It does, however, bear watching to see if this trend continues.
Looking at the teleconnections, the main one that I believe will play a big role in our weather is the MJO. It is currently in Phase 7 and slowly meandering toward Phase 8. Phases 8-1-2-3 all are generally favorable for Western U.S. troughing. Here is the outlook for the MJO:
The dark red line is the strength and location of the MJO over the past few months. The green line is the ensemble mean forecast for the next couple weeks. What we want is for the MJO to maintain it’s strength and continue it’s migration into Phases 8, 1, 2, and 3. There is a strong correlation between these phases and good snow for this neck of the woods.
Overall, lots of questions with the upcoming storm cycle in the short term, and even more uncertainty in the long term. My general feeling is that February is going to be a decent month with near average snowfall and then we might be in for a really good March as the MJO reaches favorable territory again. Let’s hope I’m right!