Fresh snow and a clear sky

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 8:32 am

Clear skies and fresh air today with cooler temps.  Yesterday’s system did well, all things considered.  Snow totals ranged from 3-5″ in the Northern Wasatch to 6-9″ for Park City and the Cottonwoods.  Looks like the sheer volume of moisture column was enough to overcome the lack of dynamics.  Liquid amounts were fairly high and if this were a colder storm, accumulations would have been well over a foot, but at the same time, if it were a colder storm, it would be unlikely to have as much moisture.  Today should be really good as well with plenty of snow up there that is yet to be tracked.

Snow quality will deteriorate tomorrow and Wednesday as high pressure warms us back up and snow turns even wetter during the day before freezing at night.  Clouds will be on the increase on Wednesday ahead of the next system.

This system is extremely complicated, so continue to bear with me over the next few days.  The first part of the system will eject through the northern half of the Great Basin into Northern Rockies Wednesday night into Thursday.  It doesn’t look overly strong, however, some model runs have suggested a stalling frontal boundary over far northern Utah that could create pockets of locally significant precipitation.  This isn’t showing up in all models, and even if it were to happen, there’s a good chance it could set up too far north to benefit much of the Wasatch Range.  Without the stalling boundary, Wednesday night into Thursday is looking like a light to moderate event at best.  If we get it to stall just right, we could see more significant totals.  For now, we’ll just have to hope we get lucky.

The southern portion of the storm will then cut-off and drop into Southern California before moving east-northeast through N. Arizona.  This will occur Friday-Sunday and will pull copious amounts of moisture into Southern Utah.  The Wasatch should get some moisture, but the vast majority will be focused on Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, and the San Juans of Colorado.  Maybe a road trip is in the cards?

After this system finally moves out late in the weekend, ridging with nudge its way into the area.  The GFS has been struggling deciding whether the ridge will remain over the west coast and push the storm track to our east or if it will retrograde enough to drop systems into the area.  The Euro has been much more consistent in dropping a cold trough into the area around the 12th or 13th of March.  The Euro is often a more trustworthy model in the 5-10 day range.  It has also been more consistent over the past few days and has the support of the GEM model.  Let’s hope the Euro has a better handle on the situation.

Looking at the teleconnections, the main one to grab my interest is the PNA, which can often strongly influence our WX patterns.  It has been, for the most part, in a positive state since the middle of December but is forecasted to finally turn negative by mid-month.


I’m hoping this will help to shift the pattern.  If you remember, December was pretty good to us . . .


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  • Anonymous

    HI WSF. Good morning. I really appreciate your detailed forecasts and discussions. Based upon your analysis of the long-range models, do your instincts tell you that there is a high probability of a pattern change next week? I am coming to Snowbird/Alta in two weeks and am becoming increasingly worried that the warm temperatures are going to do a job on the snowpack. I am hoping for cooler temps and at least a little bit of snow. Since you spend a good deal of time up in LCC, do you think the snowpack will hopd up for a least a few more weeks? Thanks!

    • There is close to a 100″ base depth in LCC right now, one of the highest in the country. You won’t have any issues with the snowpack.

  • What site do you use to follow the Euro models?

  • Anonymous

    Hi WSF. Curious to hear your thoughts as to why the GFS and Euro are differing in terms of the predicted west coast troughing for next week. Which one do you think is more likely to be correct? Thanks!

    • These models take in thousands of different inputs in order to make their forecasts, and each model puts more weight on certain imputs versus others, so it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly why one model shows one thing while another shows something different. As I mentioned in the discussion, the Euro is generally better in the 5-10 day range and has support of other models, so hopefully it is the Euro that is correct. However, things haven’t been going our way for much of this season so who knows?

      • Anonymous

        Hi WSF. Thanks for the info. Very interesting. I feel as though there has to be at least one decent shot of snow in the coming weeks. It can’t be this dry for the whole month in the Wasatch, can it?

  • Steve

    Hope the euro wins out. Not much love from the GFS after this weekend.

  • Anonymous

    Just wondering if the latest run of the Euro is still looking encouraging for troughing and a pattern change for next week.? Thanks

    • It wasn’t quite as encouraging as it’s been in previous runs.

      • Anonymous

        Not a good sign :-(. Now that the GFS and Euro are not looking great, is there anything to “hang our hat on.”

        • The fact that it’s March 4th and model accuracy really only goes 7-10 days out. It may not be huge, but we’ll at least have a storm later this week. Hopefully by then, we’ll see more encouraging signs in the long-term again. I’m not going to lie, things could look better, but I’m trying to stay positive… still plenty of winter left!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks WSF. I feel the same. I wish things were looking better too. I love weather, like you, but am still very much a novice at reading the models. I just tried looking at the latest Euro run from the website you provided above but could not really tell what was going on. Is it also now showing ridging for next week or is there still some hope for at least some weak//moderate storms to come through at some point? Do you have any idea about totals for the upcoming storm. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

        I’d also like to contribute to your cause. Is there a way to do so? I think you really do a great job answering readers’ questions.

        • Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad that you are at least looking at the models. The more you track the weather, the easier they will become to read. The Euro is still looking better than the GFS but isn’t quite as deep or as far west with the trough next week. If that holds, I’d guess light to moderate storms is the best we can hope for.

          You can donate to the cause if you’d like by clicking “Donate to WSF” on the top menu bar. Any contributions, of any size, are appreciated.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks. I will definitely contribute to your efforts! I have read that the Euro is more accurate than the GFS. Is it possible that the Euro’s prediction could become more favorable in the coming days? I am coming to LCC for the first time ever in two weeks and am really hoping that the conditions will hold out till then or perhaps get a little better.

        • Absolutely! Anybody who lives here and follows the weather forecasts can tell you that it can go from looking bleak to looking great in a matter of hours. Conditions in LCC are still very good and you’ll have an awesome time no matter what, but it would be great if you could get some fresh snow right before and during your stay.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks so much. When do you think you will have a better idea about potential storms for next week? Do you mind if I check back with you? Also, can I still expect to being skiing top-to-bottom without having to worry about coverage issues in about two weeks, even if if there is little new snow?

  • Steve

    I have enough experience sking the Wasatch that I can tell you there will be top to bottom sking in 2 weeks. Obviously the question is whether they get any fresh snow for higher quality sking. I’m hoping as i get there in 5 days for a 2 week trip. Hopefull the trends become more positive over time. The GFS is bumming me out. At least I can hope for some spring sking.

  • James


    Two questions..

    in theory if the wettest months were Dec/Jan/Feb instead of March/April/May.. what do you think the average snow totals in the wasatch would be?

    and do you have any guesses why the last two winters we have been having a ridge that will not move?