Since I got married a couple years ago, I’ve had the privilege of watching my wife’s favorite movie, Finding Nemo, about 5 dozen times. My favorite line in the entire movie is when the turtles are riding the current and it rapidly accelerates up to roller coaster speeds and the turtle yells, “righteous! righteous!” as he zips along the current. You know what I’m talking about, right? Well that is how I feel right about now–we’ve been cruising along for 6+ weeks with only about 3 real storms. Now all of the sudden we are hitting the current (literally, the atmospheric current) and are going to accelerate through an exciting period of winter weather. Haha, but maybe I should stick with weather and refrain from Disney analogies . . .
So, he we go: Today will be a good weather day to get up to the mountain and fight the crowds. Tomorrow, the weak system that we’ve talked about for several days will move through. I expect snow to start during the day as the front moves through but it will be short-lived and I only expect, at best, a couple inches from this system in the mountains and maybe a dusting on the grass in the valleys.
Monday will be break day to maybe enjoy the little bit of fresh snow we get. Tuesday, the real meat and potatoes system will be dropping down the west coast, then move inland. Yesterday I expressed a lot of concern and still have those concerns with the system moving too far south, although the latest model runs have trended slight farther north again. Here is and excerpt from the NWS Salt Lake City office regarding this system:
THIS BROAD STORM SYSTEM…REINFORCED BY A SERIES OF TRAILING DISTURBANCES…IS EXPECTED TO BRING AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF WET AND UNSETTLED WEATHER TO THE AREA. EXPECT A TUESDAY NIGHT START TIME WITH ONLY BRIEF BREAKS IN THE WEATHER THROUGH THE WEEKEND…AND THE MODELS SEEM FAIRLY CONSISTENT WITH THIS IDEA. HOWEVER…MINOR DIFFERENCES IN THE DETAILS ARE STILL AFFECTING THE FORECAST FOR SNOW AMOUNTS AND WHERE/WHEN THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE. ALTHOUGH TOTAL SNOW AMOUNTS MAY END UP BEING LARGE IN SOME AREAS…THIS WILL MAINLY BE DUE TO THE DURATION OF THE STORM AS IT CURRENTLY DOES NOT APPEAR THAT INSTANTANEOUS SNOW RATES WILL BE ESPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT EXCEPT FOR BRIEF PERIODS.
This system obviously does have potential, being a cold and long-duration event, to drop significant snow. However, after the last system we had in the Wasatch that was very similar to this, I am wary of overforecasting this system. So for right now I’d still expect moderate amounts for the Wasatch 6-14″ between Tuesday night and Thursday. I might have to bump those up if we get closer and gain confidence, but for right now I’m going to play it safe.
Beyond Thursday, great news continues, all global models continue the active weather right on through the extended with frequent systems dropping out of the northwest and into the Great Basin. None of these systems look exceptionally strong, but often times the Wasatch benefits more from frequent smaller storms than one or two massive storm systems. Higher frequency of powder days too. And the breaks between systems gives the snow time to settle and helps mitigate avalanche danger. Very difficult to time, but right now it looks like a weaker system around Friday, another potentially stronger one around Sunday, and then another system possible about next Tuesday. Of course, this is just a rough estimate and is likely to change. The message here is that we will be on our way to recovering the snowpack and winter is not done yet. This is also a very cold pattern so snow will be likely in the valleys, where it could start to pile up as time wears on.