Caught in the middle of a 7-10 split

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 9:34 am

What a crazy pattern we have for the second half of this week. Not much has changed since yesterday… System will approach the area tomorrow with valley rain and mountain snow developing Wednesday night in far northern Utah. On Thursday into Thursday night, the frontal boundary looks to stall somewhere over northern Utah. This could bring substantial rain/snow to certain areas. Current thinking would put the best snowfall north of SLC toward Cache Valley and the Idaho border. Areas south of the boundary will see significantly less snowfall through Friday. I have been very hesitant, as some of you have noticed, in forecasting snowfall amounts, mostly because in this type of pattern, a difference in 50 miles in where the boundary stalls can mean the difference between just a few inches of snow and well over a foot.  Best thinking right now is to just say that the northern Wasatch stands a better chance of seeing significant snow from the stalled boundary than the central or southern Wasatch.

On Friday, the boundary will weaken and move out of the area as the cut-off low portion of the storm approaches from the southwest.  This looks to track over Southern Utah on Friday-Saturday, where significant snow is possible. This weekend, you might want to consider a road trip to Brian Head or Eagle Point.  The low should pull moisture north into the Wasatch and then create a bit of wrap around precip on Saturday that could favor the Wasatch Back and the Uintas.  Because of the southerly track, don’t expect Wasatch accumulations to be overly great this weekend, but we could see several inches on top of what falls with the initial system on Thursday-Friday.  By Sunday, the low should finally start to move out of the area and we will see dry weather return.

I know this is all very complicated so it might be hard to follow (it’s hard to follow myself).  But to simplify: Wednesday night through Friday will favor far northern Utah mountains for snowfall. Friday through Saturday the emphasis for heavy mountain snow will shift south to Southern Utah.  My concern is that the central Wasatch range will be in between the two events and not see significant snowfall from either.  Hopefully we get decent snowfall from both phases of this system.  We can hope, right?

Long range: Next week we dry out for at least the first half of the week.  GFS keeps the ridge over the west coast more amplified and pushes most systems just to our north and east, Euro develops a flatter zonal flow that could bring a couple weak to moderate systems through the area later next week.  Still a lot of uncertainty in the long-term so we’ll focus on the complicated near term for now.  We’ll give the models a few days to figure out the long term before we lose sleep over it.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .
  • Anonymous

    Hi WSF. This storm must be really stressful to forecast. I know this might be a tough one to answer but am curious to know what would be the low-end for totals in LCC from this storm? Thanks!

    • Haha. It is stressful! I think the worst case scenario for LCC is a 3-6″ total through Saturday. Best case scenario would be a couple feet. Most likely scenario is somewhere in between, maybe 6-14″.

      • Anonymous

        Any thoughts on BCC? Similar? Thx.

      • Doug

        Safe to assume higher totals @ powmow and snowbasin from the first storm segment? Venture a guess? Flying in saturday for the week.

        • Yes. Nothing is a foregone conclusion, but it looks like PowMow and Snowbasin will do better with the first part of the storm. If you get in on Saturday, however, the areas farther south will be doing better then.

  • So forgive me if this is obvious, but when you refer to northern, central, and southern wasatch mountains is this what you mean in terms of the resorts?

    Northern Wasatch = Snowbasin and Powder Mountain
    Central Wasatch = Park City, Cottonwoods, Sundance
    Southern Wasatch = Eagle Point, Brian Head

    • Correct for the Northern and Central. The Southern Wasatch extends from Provo south past Nephi, not much in the way of designated ski areas down there. I consider Brian Head and Eagle Point to be south of the Wasatch Range itself. They fall under the umbrella term of “mountains of southern Utah”.

      • Doh! Thanks for the correction with regards to the southern Wasatch. Makes perfect sense. My fingers are crossed for this next system. Next week I’ll be in Stowe, Vermont skiing at a charity event for work so that should hopefully result in some good powder days back home! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hi WSF. Thanks for trying to make sense of the complicated upcoming storm. I am not an expert in reading models and I just looked at the latest Euro run and it appears to look a bit more promising for late next week. Is this correct?

    • You sound like an expert to me! You are correct. 12z looked pretty good for next Thursday/Friday. Of course it’s just one run and the GFS isn’t totally on board, but… good news is good news, right?

      • Anonymous

        I have actually learned lots from you! I am hopeful too! Do you think that the slopes of LCC will at least get a good freshening from the storm this week?

        • I’d expect them to at least get a few inches to freshen things up, but it’s hard to have confidence in anything significant.

      • Anonymous

        Do you think that the troughing predicted by the 12Z Euro is related to the predicted -PNA that is forecast by next week?

        • It could be. It’s almost impossible to ever say conclusively that the teleconnections are what forces pattern changes. What is clear, however, is that there are correlations between them and the general WX patterns. I think in ENSO neutral years like this one, the MJO and the PNA have a strong influence.

      • Anonymous

        Very interesting…Are any other of the major models that you analyze (other than the GFS) in agreement with the Euro regarding troughing next week?

        • GEM is even better looking than the Euro! Good signs for sure. Just hope the GFS comes around!

      • Anonymous

        Good news that the GEM is in agreement! Is the GFS showing any signs of coming around? Do you have recommendations for easy viewing of the GEM and GFS models? Also, do you think 8inches is reasonable up in LCC by Saturday from the upcoming storm? Thanks for taking all my questions…much appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Great blog! Thanks for all the info. I am coming out week in a couple weeks and I am obsessed with coverage and potential big powder for 18 through 23rd. I have been out West 4 times, always great but never hit the big powder storms yet. Please tell me it is very, very rare to get rain in the Canyons in March? Salt Lake City forecast shows rain for the week I am coming out. I hope this would be snow in the Canyons.
    Thanks! I will be tuning in daily for the next couple weeks. This is the best forecast/conditions blog I have found. Glad I found it!

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about rain in the high elevations. It is pretty infrequent and the overall pattern looks to be cold enough for snow in the mountains.

  • scotchipman

    I like to look at the GFS and ETA from the University of Utah mainly for the 700mb panel which is key for Utah forecasting. The best overall model in my opinion for Utah (Meteorologist/skier who has lived in Utah for 40yrs) is the WRF-GFS out of the University of Washington which can be found at The best place I have found to look at the ECMWF is out of Penn State

  • Pingback: Quandaries | Wasatch Snow Forecast()