Wet and heavy

Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 8:30 am

Sunday PM update:


A nice band of valley rain/mountain snow has developed in the Salt Lake Valley up into the Cottonwoods and spilling over to PC.  As expected we saw generally 2-5″ today around Park City and up north and 4-6″ in the upper Cottonwoods.  The snow was wet, but still fun.  A good day for Gore-Tex!  I think another hour or two of heavy snow in the Cottonwood and perhaps PC with a few scattered snow showers overnight will help bolster the snowfall totals.  This should make skiing tomorrow pretty good as well.  Totals will likely end up in the 3-6″ range for Park City resorts and 5-8″ range in the Cottonwoods — basically, exactly what was forecasted :-).  We will then ridge up for the next couple days with dry, sunny days. Unfortunately, the weather gets a lot more complicated later this week.  I’m still trying to get a feel for what we can expect — more details tomorrow.

I don’t want to freak anybody out, but the 12z GFS totally backed away from the idea of troughing for mid-month.  The 12z Euro was still showing a cold, deep trough and the 18z GFS came back a little bit.  It’s just one model run, but bears watching.  More on that tomorrow as well . . . WSF


Snowfall, albeit wet and heavy, has arrived again to the Wasatch after teasing us with Spring the last couple days.  Snow levels seem to be running between 6-7K feet this morning with rain falling in valley locations.  This winter, we’ve seen almost all cold storms, which means that it’s been quite a long while since we’ve had a good soaking rain in the valleys.

Today snow will continue in the mountains this morning with perhaps lulls here and there.  The peak snowfall should come this afternoon before the front moves through when snow levels will crash to valley floors but precip should be tapering off so I don’t expect much accumulation behind the front tonight.  This is a very moist system but lacks dynamics, so precip intensity will never be all that intense.  Still sticking with 2-5″ with up to 8″ in places like the Cottonwoods.

High pressure will build in tomorrow through Wednesday ahead of the next system.  This is a complex system and I still don’t have confidence to forecast totals.  Right now it looks like Wednesday night a frontal boundary will stall somewhere in the area, but exactly where is still in doubt.  Latest model runs place it mostly north of the Wasatch in Southern Idaho, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this move south in future model runs.  Wherever this boundary ends up stalling, they will have a good chance to see significant snowfall.  Away from the boundary, snowfall amounts will likely be minor.  The southern portion of the system, meanwhile, will “cut-off” and drift into the desert SW.  Right now it looks to track slowly through Northern AZ toward the four-corners.  This could bring significant snowfall to S. Utah somewhere in the Friday/Saturday timeframe.  It will also pull in a cold, moist northwest flow into the Wasatch that could keep periodic snow showers going on Friday and Saturday up north.  This is a complex pattern that is still 5-7 days away, so please bear with me as I try to get a feel for things.  If you’re a regular reader, then you will know that these cut-off lows can cause headaches so I’m going to try to keep my sanity by not making any concrete forecasts just yet.

Looking way out ahead, both the GFS and Euro continue to suggest retrogression of the ridge and major troughing developing in Week 2.  Let’s all hope they hold on to this idea!


P.S. The cut-off low late next week could bring lots of snow to places like the San Juans and other mountains of Southern Colorado.  Road trip to Wolf Creek, CO next weekend? Who’s down?

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20 thoughts on “Wet and heavy

  1. Bill

    Heading out to Snowbasin/Powder from the east coast for a few days (skiing thurs-sat). I will be this sacrificing a big bucket of KFC to Ullr that this storm hits.

  2. Anonymous

    WSF, thanks for the great morning update. Based upon your analysis of the long-range models do feel as though there is a strong likelihood for a trough to set up off the west coast in the 2nd week of March. Out of curiosity, what what has caused this ridge to be so dominant and will will likely change in the coming weeks for it to move westward? Thanks!

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      I think there is a strong likelihood of some sort of active pattern developing by mid-month. Too early to know whether it will be a pattern conducive to big storms yet. As for the ridge, the last two winters we’ve had very persistent ridging that we seem to constantly have to rely on it retrograding to get storms into the area rather than completely breaking down the ridge (which might bring us bigger storms). In the end we always see just short storm cycles of mostly weak to moderate storms. There have been a lot of theories floating around about what could be causing some of the strange weather patterns we’ve seen these last two winters. I don’t think anybody knows for sure, and I’m not about to venture a guess.

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks WSF for the great explanation. I looking to arrive at Brighton/Solitude in BCC in about 2 weeks. I know it is still a bit far out but what is your best guess as to what I can expect for weather/skiing conditions. I have never been before.

  3. Anonymous

    Skied PCMR today, it was wet, but it seemed much more on the 5″ side than the 2″ side. Maybe even more than 5? Really not a bad day at all. Just started snowing pretty heavy down at the base.

  4. Anonymous

    Just saw your PM update. Is March looking like a lost cause? Will there be any hope for decent snow?

  5. Anonymous

    I agree with you James. I thought that last season was dismal. Its now looking like this season is shaping up to be worse. Mid-march is coming into the picture and there seems to be absolutely no hope of decent snow. This is just terrible news that the GFS has totally backed off the idea of troughing. I felt that this was the only hope for recovering the season.

    1. James

      Yea we just need a good snowstorm to meet last year but its gonna not happen.

      A lot of water restrictions this year

  6. Anonymous

    Is seems as though the Eastern Pacific high is extremely persistent! I have given up hope on this season. As I said, mid-March is just around the corner with no big storms in sight. There seems to be no reason to think that things are going to get better in terms of snowfall before the season ends.

  7. Anonymous

    WSF you are freaking people out :-). This is terrible news about the GFS backing off the idea of troughing by mid-month. Do you think that this run by the GFS is an anomaly? Will there be any hope for a least one big/moderate storm before March ends.

    1. wasatchsnowcast

      Absolutely there is hope. The farthest we can see with a good deal of confidence is 7 days, and there is a system with potential in that time frame. Then we have another week of low confidence that the models can forecast, this carries us through mid-month. That didn’t look that great on ONE run. Beyond that, we still have two more weeks of the month that could be incredibly snowy for all we know. And we could have a record snowy April… who knows? No reason to give up hope.

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