Lumps of coal

Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 7:21 am

Did Santa bring us the gift of a pattern change?  One look at the forecast models would suggest the answer to that questions is ‘no’.

The next week will be dry across the region with warm temps in the mountains and inversions trapping cooler and increasingly hazy air in the valleys.  A very weak cold front could weaken the inversions a bit this weekend, but the chances of completely scouring out the valleys looks slim.  Our next reasonable chance for precipitation will be around New Year’s Day or the day after.  Both the GFS and EC suggest the ridge of high pressure could retrograde enough again for weak northwest flow systems to graze the area.

What we need is a major pattern change…. to hit the reset button and hope a more favorable pattern sets up.  I’ve mentioned a couple times over the past week or two that the first week of January might be our next chance for said pattern change.  That still seems to be the case.  Some GFS and EC ensembles have the ridge finally breaking down during the January 5-10 time frame.   This is all fantasy for now, and we’ll have to wait several days before we can see that far with any confidence at all.

If you’re curious how this is all affecting our snowpack, numbers are generally in the 60-80% of normal range.   Not great, but better than the PNW and the Sierra Nevada which are at about 25-50% of normal right now.

Keep the faith and do your snow dances.  If anybody out there happened to get a pattern change for Christmas, please share it with the rest of us.


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  • John

    Is this a similar pattern to last year at this time?

    • Last December was actually pretty good for us, but January and February featured a blocking ridge for large portions of each month. So we’ve seen plenty of this type of pattern over the past two seasons.

      • Dave

        Any thoughts on WHY this pattern has been so common the last couple years? Think there’s some kind of larger climactic change at work or just random bad luck?

        • Hard to say, two or three consecutive dry winters is certainly not unheard of for Utah. But this pattern does seem to be repeating itself far more than usual.

  • The only possible good news is the 12Z NAM forecasted skewt does show the inversion breaking with the weak/dry Saturday storm so air pollution may not get really bad just yet.

  • Patrick

    12z GFS showed a moderately sized system by next Friday. Fingers crossed.