Potent Spring Storm on the Doorstep

Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 10:46 am

A weak disturbance is firing off a few more snow showers today as expected.  However all eyes are on a potent, slow-moving system that will enter the area tonight.

There is a lot to talk about with this system so I’m going to go through the system period by period, starting with tonight.

Tonight:  The main Low will start to drop into Central Nevada.  Late tonight and early tomorrow morning, a surface front will move through the area from north to south. This is a more typical front that will favor the Wasatch, although it is not overly strong.  So I expect amounts of only a few inches in the Wasatch through mid-morning Monday.

Monday: During the day, the Low will slowly meander into Central or Southern Utah.  The Euro and the NAM show the Low’s position in the center of the state, whereas the GFS is farther south.  Both solutions would bring significant mountain snow and valley rain to central and southern Utah.  But the NAM/Euro solution would be more likely to bring snowfall into the Wasatch as well.  The low is progged to move very slowly with plenty of moisture, so snowfall amounts could be locally significant, especially in Central Utah and the Uintas.

Monday night: As the low moves into S. Colorado, the flow will turn from easterly to northeastly to northerly. This will likely favor the Wasatch Back from I-80 south to about I-70.  The Uintas, especially the northern slopes of the Uintas, also stand to do very well.

Tuesday: The Low will start to move out of the area and into eastern Colorado and the plains.  Wrap-around moisture bands will dissipate during the day with clearing skies.

While significant snowfall is almost a certainty in central/southern Utah mountains and the Uintas, the Wasatch is much bigger question mark.  My best estimate would be to put accumulations in South/Central Mountains between 1-2 feet, with pockets of higher totals possible.  The Wasatch is more likely to be in the 6-12″ range, but if we get lucky with the track of the system, it is certainly possible for pockets of much more on the Wasatch Back.

Wind is also a huge factor.  The system is very windy to begin with, and with the track just to the south of the Wasatch, it will likely develop strong downslope winds along the Wasatch Front.  If you remember from last week, the snow that fell in the easterly flow in Park City was accompanied by winds and was windpacked in areas.  Don’t be surprised to see that again, with perhaps even more wind loading.  In fact, the eastern Uintas are under a blizzard warning with the combination of wind and snow.

So overall, we are looking at a good storm for Utah that will put down a solid amount of valuable moisture.  Unfortunately, it seems like the best snow will fall in areas that don’t have in-bound skiing.  If you’re dying for some lift service powder, you might want to venture down to Brian Head or Eagle Point on Monday for some storm skiing.  Then perhaps the Wasatch Back on Tuesday if we can get some good wrap-around…?  Or else go touring in the Uintas . . .   Here is the WRF-GFS predicted snowfall, notice the high amounts in the Uintas and along the Book Cliffs:


I think most of us will be anxiously watching the Wasatch to see how much of the action we get in on.  It would be nice to have one more really deep powder day, eh?  I think 6-12″ is the safe bet, but there is a possibility for more.  

A break on Wednesday and Thursday morning before the next system moves in late Thursday.  This looks like a 3-6″ storm at this time.

Models have no clue what’s going on beyond that, so there’s no point speculating quite yet.



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