Ridge City

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 6:53 am

A moist northwest flow kept snow showers going for much of the night in the Wasatch.  It took a lot longer than expected, but eventually this storm delivered.   A chance for a few more morning snow showers before clearing later today.  Should be a great ski day with many mountains opening terrain that spend much of the weekend on wind hold.

Storm totals since Saturday night are highly varied, but generally look like this:

  • Snowbasin, Solitude, Canyons: 7″
  • Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Deer Valley, PCMR, Beaver Mountain, PowMow: 13-16″

These numbers might seem strange to you, but it’s actually fairly common in storms that have long orographic periods.  Certain areas are favored by certain flows and will see snow all day while other areas see very little.  Very hard to predict which areas will see more snow before the event.

Overall, the 5 day period yielded anywhere from 20-45″ of snow for the Wasatch which is quite good.  If it weren’t for the gusty winds and short period of riming on Friday night, it would have been an epic powder week.

Personally, I had a great ski day yesterday.  Despite the relentless wind, I was able to find protected areas and deposits that were over a foot deep and kept refilling throughout the day as more snow got blow into them.  Unfortunately, it seems to have tipped the scales with a cold I’ve been fighting for the past two weeks and I woke up this morning feeling awful.  Looks like I’ll have plenty of time to get over it before our next chance of snow . . .

There is no good news in the long range.  Ridge over the west coast will firmly re-establish itself for dry weather for the next week with valley inversions returning in full strength. There are a few small chances that we could get clipped by weak systems next week, but they look to provide little more than clouds and a few breezes.   I can usually find at least some hope by looking at some long-range control runs or teleconnection indices, but right now I’m struggling to find anything that suggests a pattern shift before the end of the month.   In an ENSO neutral year like this one, I look to the MJO to be a driving force in forcing troughs in the west coast.  So far this season, it’s been dead.  Not strong enough to even register as “in a phase”.  For the past few weeks it has been forecasted to strengthen and move into Phases 6 and 7 (not good phases for us, but still at least it could propagate into good phases).  Unfortunately, that never comes to fruition and until it does finally strengthen, I fear changing the large-scale pattern will be difficult.   Time for superstitions again ….


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  • Sam

    What are the ‘good’ phases of the MJO for Utah?

    I’ve seen some long term forecasters calling for Phase 7 in early February and 8 for the later half.

    The charts are hard to read, but looks like 7 might be dry for the west, but 8 brings more moisture?

    • Yep, you nailed it. 6 and 7 are bad. 8 starts to get a little better, then it goes back into stage 1 after 8. Stages 1-4 are the best for Utah. Let’s hope it can get there before winter is over! Ha!

  • Steve

    Boy, the discussion section of the CPC’s 6-14 day forecast is pretty grim. Talk about how rare it is that it looks to get even worse in week 2. Yikes!

  • James

    Wsf how do you feel late season will be?

  • kyle

    wsf, does mid Feb (14th-17th) look promising in any regards for powder in the Watasch range? Contemplating rebooking flights up north if this weather pattern doesn’t change in the near future.

    • Too far to know. I’d like to think our pattern will change by then, but who knows…

  • Michael

    Wasatch sucks asssss

  • Steve

    FWIW, I don’t know much, but i do know that questions about what the weather will be like out past a couple of weeks are pointless. I don’t think anyone can forecast out that far with any accuracy. I think that all that can be done is to look for signs that potentially correlate with positive changes, such as mjo. But i’m sure WSF can correct me if i’m wrong, but that is not a forecast. Just signs re potential changes to pattern. But to say what end of season will be like or what the weather will be like on a particular week out past 2 weeks is probably not possible. At least not with any accuracy. Of course tell that to accuweather who has some extended forecast thing that goes out for some ridiculous amount of time. But it’s never accurate. anyway, just my 2 cents. Thanks again WSF for your thoughts.

  • star

    we’ll get lots of snow in late april and all of may, just wait till then cause winter in utah is not winter anymore 50 in grantsville today WTF!

  • pen fifteen club co founder

    No-one can forecast past seven days, things can change dramatically between now and then and let’s really hope that they do!

  • Recovering from the pow flu.

    How is the snowpack looking after this last storm cycle?

  • Alpymarr

    Although this isn’t quite like the winters we are used to, there are plenty of worse places to be living from a skiing standpoint this season. Even the Cascades are hurting big time, and Tahoe is really hurting. There is plenty of time left for winter to return. Remember last January was bad, but things turned around. March is where its at….Just trying to be positive. Today was real good where I was, plenty of snow in the face 🙂

    • star

      last year sucked march was lame .. you have a bad memory