This past weekend’s storm, while not a total bust, certainly did not drop quite as much as we were hoping for. A large part of that was that the southerly flow ahead of the Low on Friday/Friday night never really brought the type of steady moisture stream the models were depicting, so for the rest of the system we had to play catch up. So where does that put us in terms of snowpack compared to average? Well, we’ll start with the best areas. Southern Utah mountains are generally near or ever so slightly below normal. The Southern and Central Wasatch, including the mountains east of Utah and Salt Lake Counties now stand generally between 75-90% of normal — not horrible, but not quite where we need to be. The Uintas also fall into this 75-90% range. The Northern Wasatch, north of I-80, is where the lowest current snowpack exists compared to average. Generally speaking, they stand between 60-75% of normal.
If you’d like to see a full map of current snowfall numbers, you can find it here:
Several of you have been asking where this stands compared to last year, and the good news is that almost all these areas are at least faring better than last year. However, last year we saw a decent March, so if we continue to stay dry, we could fall behind even last year.
That is where the good news comes in regarding the current forecast. If you are a regular reader, you’ve been hearing me rant about the MJO and how I believe it could be the catalyst to turn this stagnant pattern around and give us a good end to February and hopefully a Miracle March. Well, the MJO is in Phase 1, the first of three favorable stages, and is strengthening again and forecasted to move into Phase 2 in the next day or two. My fear now is that the current forecast has it hauling through Phases 2 and 3… so it could be out of those favorable phases by the end of the month. Let’s hope it takes its time propagating and we can enjoy the benefits for a longer duration.
Most of the meteorological world, myself included, has been anxiously keeping an eye on the MJO and waiting for the effects to show up in the operational models. I’ll be the first to admit that I expected to see a much more drastic change in pattern showing up in the models about a week ago. It does appear, that a change is starting to show up beyond President’s Day, but it’s not nearly as drastic as I might have expected.
Today, we will see high pressure build in today behind the departing system. Inversions might reform bit today and tomorrow but shouldn’t be nearly as strong as some of the others we’ve seen this winter. On Thursday, we’ll have a “backdoor” type system drop down the east side of the ridge and clip Northern Utah. Models have struggled with the strength and a slight change in track of this system can mean the difference between no snow and several inches. So we’ll have to keep an eye on it, but at this time it looks like at least light accumulations are likely in the Wasatch, mainly north of I-80, on Thursday. Snow showers could continue early on Friday before we clear out again for the weekend.
A second backdoor system will drop in on Monday. Again, it doesn’t look like much at this time, but it will give us the possibility for at least a bit more additional light snow accumulations. The ridge is then forecasted by both the Euro and GFS to retrograde out into the Pacific and let a series of potentially stronger systems to drop into the Great Basin. This is a type of pattern similar to what we saw in December if it were to verify (that is a big “IF” right now). Not huge storms, but fairly frequent that could start to add up over time.
There are a ton of questions, but the models have been fairly consistent with developing this pattern after President’s Day so it’s definitely worth noting. Until then, we might have at least a couple small storms to keep it fresh up there. Enjoy!