I hope everybody enjoyed gorging themselves with food yesterday. Conditions will be mild again today through Sunday, allowing for great, relaxing ski days. Worth it just to get out of the inversions. The Canyons, PCMR, and Snowbasin are all open now as well as the Cottonwood resorts.
As forecasted, with the last week of dry weather, our snowpack has flatlined and we’ve gone from pretty much normal SWE (Snow Water Equivalent) to about 2 inches liquid below normal. Here’s a look at the current snowpack at Snowbird’s Snotel station compared to average:
A major pattern change is still in the forecast, so we should see that blue line attempt to catch up soon.
Things start to change over the weekend with the ridge just starting to break down. By Sunday, we can expect a few more clouds and a slight chance for a high elevation snow shower in the far north. On Monday, SW winds will pick up ahead of the main trough which will be dropping into the Great Basin out of British Columbia. Latest runs of the GFS and EC have shown a general slower solution with the front not reaching Utah until day time hours on Tuesday. Monday night will still have a good chance for some valley rain showers and mountain snow ahead of the front, but the meat of the storm won’t move in until Tuesday.
There are two main parts to this system. The first is the cold front on Tuesday. Snow levels will quickly drop to all valley floors on Tuesday with its passage. The front should be through the area by late Tuesday night, giving Northern Utah a 12-hour window for frontal precip. Right now it looks like the valleys could see a few inches from the front with the mountains receiving 6-12″.
The second part of the system will be the orographics behind the front. If you’re a regular reader, you know how important orographics can be. Our last significant system (November 16) was almost exclusively orographics and we saw 10-20″ of snow in the Wasatch. With orographics, it’s so difficult to forecast exact amounts, so for right now I’d saw an additional 6-12″ would be possible in favored areas like the Cottonwoods with 3-6″ elsewhere during the Wednesday-Thursday timeframe.
When you put the two parts of the system together, my best guess would be 1-2 feet in orographically favored areas like the Cottonwoods with 8-16″ elsewhere from Monday night – Friday **This is a very early estimate without the help of short range models, so it is subject to change**
The other story, apart from the snow is the cold air. Next week is going to be frigid with 700mb temps currently progged to get close to -20C by the end of the week. That is bitter cold! What it means for us is 20s for highs in the valleys, teens for highs in the mountain valleys, and single digits in the mountains. Ridge tops will likely be around zero mid-late next week. If you still haven’t winterized your house, this weekend is the time to do it. This cold air will also lead to extremely powdery snow. with 3-5% water content. This means for every 1″ of liquid we see, we could see 20+” of snow.
Beyond next week, models diverge significantly but the latest trend would be to bring in another arctic system next weekend (Dec 7-8).