Very cold once again this morning. Stable airmass is now firmly established overhead — that means the upper elevations will start to warm up close to normal as the week progresses while the valleys will become inverted with cold air trapped. Urban haze is likely to develop as well.
We will be dry through the weekend with most of the storm energy passing to our north. Ridge of high pressure is parking itself just off the west coast which is sending storms up and into British Columbia. This will be the case through early next week. There is a small chance that the southern extent of moisture could clip far northern Utah on Friday with a snow shower, but no accumulations are likely.
The good news is that the three major long range models we use — ECMWF, GFS, and GEM — are all showing retrogression of the ridge farther out into the Pacific late next week. Potentially opening up the door for a storm system next Thursday or Friday (Dec 19-20). It’s still a long way out so it’s not a forecast quite yet but at this point we are just looking for light at the end of the tunnel.
The past two storms have helped our snowpack for sure. Here is the latest graphical view of the Snowbird snotel site (other snotel sites show similar numbers):
This year (green line) we are just below normal (about 80%) so far. Over the next week, we should fall to about 70% before the next storm arrives. Last year (red line) we had frequent small to medium storms through the whole month of December, then we hit January 1 and flatlined for almost a month, falling below average and never recovering. The other thing to consider is that this measures SWE (snow water equivalent) — or how much water is in the snowpack. We’ve had a few very low density snows recently. The actual snow depth is probably a bit closer to average than the SWE. Also consider that the cold air lately has allowed for plentiful snowmaking at resorts, so conditions really are quite good.
It’s not even winter yet! We’ll keep you updated on the potential for storms late next week!