Complex storm arrives today!

Friday, February 8, 2013 at 7:41 am

Friday PM update:

We had a band move from south to north this afternoon. If you were up in the Cottonwoods like me, you were treated to extremely high snowfall rates approaching 3″/hour. From about 1:30 until I left the mountain at 3:45, about 6 inches of snow accumulated in the parking lot. Made for some decent powder skiing at the end of the day.

Tonight it’s looking like we’ll just see periodic snowfall as bands move up the Wasatch range. Not looking at overly impressive snowfall. But another 3-6″ should fall on top of whatever fell already today. That should put most areas of the Wasatch at 6-10″ by Saturday morning.

The flow will then turn north and eventually northwest on Saturday. This will usher in a moist flow that will fire up snow showers again during the day into Saturday evening. Another 4-8″ by Sunday morning. That will put storm totals at about 10-16″. Sunday and Sunday night we may see additional light accumulations, but likely not more that a couple inches. Again, like I said earlier, it won’t feel super deep at any given time, but it will add up over time so by Monday we’ll be looking at fairly significant amounts. This is also the type of storm where banding plays a huge factor. Locations that get the benefit of persistent banding could see more than forecasted, while areas that do not get good snowbands might be under the forecast.

Cold weather next week with weak backdoor systems possible. Both the Euro and GFS are currently showing another storm for around President’s Day. We’ll see if that trend holds.

Previous . . .

Very complicated system moving into the area starting today so let’s get right into it. Today, the low pressure system will gradually approach Utah, traveling through central and southern Nevada. This will pull an increasingly moist air mass north into Utah by the afternoon. Snowfall will begin light and periodic in the Wasatch today, but should increase in intensity this afternoon– peaking tonight. Areas favored by southerly or southeasterly flow will see the best accumulations today and tonight. Don’t expect overly impressive amounts but 5-10″ in the mountains by Saturday morning is possible. On Saturday, the flow will briefly turn eastward as the low passes to our south before shifting north and eventually northwesterly by evening. This will set up the next bout of snow. In this scenario, northwest facing slopes and valleys will be favored with another 5-10″ possible in the high elevations and a few inches in the valleys by Sunday night. Another weak wave Sunday night into Monday may bring additional light accumulations.

It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly when the heaviest snow will fall and where. It might be better to just broad-brush the whole time frame with intermittent snow today through Monday. The sun will probably even pop out at times. Total accumulations will likely be 10-20″ in the mountains (with potentially higher pockets) and 3-6″ in the lower valleys with 5-10″ in the mountain valleys (again, locally higher amounts possible). Remember, this isn’t going to all fall at once so it probably won’t ever feel like there is that much snow at any given time.

This weekend I’ll be sure to give frequent updates as I try to get a feel for where the best snow is setting up in an effort to help you choose the best place to ski/ride and on which day. Right now it looks like Saturday, Sunday, and Monday all have potential to be really good!

Long range: Ridge over the west coast is holding strong. Right now, models suggesting that our only chance for snow next week through President’s Day weekend will be backdoor systems which are usually weaker in nature. MJO has stalled and weakened over the last couple days in Phase 1… Here’s an image showing it heading toward the ‘circle of death’.


Will it strengthen again and move into phases 2 and 3? We’ll see. Hopefully this doesn’t compromise our potential pattern change . . .


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21 thoughts on “Complex storm arrives today!

  1. Anonymous

    Hi there. Just want to say that you do an excellent job with this site and I appreciate all of your weather insight, it is most informative! I am planning a trip to the Wasatch in the 3rd week of March. Are you still seeing the pattern shift to more storm cycles by the end of Feb.? Any insight would be great! Thanks.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Thanks! Lots of talk in the weather world of a pattern change taking place by the end of the month and hopefully lasting well in to March, but nothing is set in stone. We’re all hoping just as much as you are that we get a snowy pattern going. We’ll keep you updated!

  2. Laura

    Thanks for the update. Clear sailing from NorCal to PC today, though the clouds and wind were gathering at Donner Summit at 8am this morning. Great advice to drive today, 12 hours, 12 minutes! Now i can enjoy the fresh snow this weekend. Thanks WSF!!

  3. nate

    Thanks much WSF! Really appreciate the time, effort and dedication you put forth to keep us informed. Love it!

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Airport usually does a good job getting flights in during snowstorms. It might be a little more difficult getting to Snowbird but as long as you have 4-wheel drive you should be ok.

  4. John W

    In regards to the MJO, say it ain’t so!! If I’m reading it correctly though do the models forecast it to strengthen and continue towards phase 2?

    Are the other models still showing the ridge moving north around Presidents’ Day? Trip is Feb 21st and it seemed like we had timed it pretty good until today.

    Gut feel says this ridge HAS to move at some point, right?

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Yes, the MJO is currently forecasted to re-strengthen. But MJO forecasts aren’t always the most accurate. There are still a lot of good signs out there for a pattern change and we’re still too far out from the 21st for the operational models to really tell us that much. So don’t despair quite yet!

  5. Alex Stoy

    So glad to have stumbled up on this site. Informative, educational and a grrrrrreat resource to feed my addictive powder habits.

  6. Anonymous

    Hello WSF. This is an amazing site! Keep up the great work. I’m heading out to the Wasatch in mid-March. I have been following your blog and was wondering if you are still optimistic, given the recent MJO weakening, about a major pattern change to favor more storms in the coming weeks. Thanks in advance for any insight you might have.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      I’m still optimistic. Lots of signs in other teleconnections too that we may be in for a good old fashioned powder change. It just may take a little longer than I was hoping.

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