Jealous of the East Coast…?

Monday, January 26, 2015 at 7:31 am


12z ECMWF run actually brings some potentially decent snow into the area during the first week of February now.  WAY WAY WAY too early to get excited, but it’s nice to see a model run that isn’t totally dry in the long-range… Let’s hope this idea sticks… WSF


Mild and spring-like temperatures again today.  Moisture moves in on Tuesday with a weak system moving through Tuesday night into early Wednesday with couple inches accumulation possible.


One of the warmest January airmasses I can remember is currently overhead.  I used the name June-uary facetiously the other day, but yesterday as I was skiing — I realized that last June (2014) saw just about the same amount of snowfall as this January has thus far seen.  If you remember, we had a storm on June 17-18 that brought up to 15″ of snow in LCC and boosted our month totals for June 2014 to over 20″ — that’s right about in line with what we’ve seen this month.   Obviously, last June was an anomaly, but still.  Anyway, our record warm airmass today will lead to high temps above 50 in many mountain locations today.  The snow will get slushy, hopefully some clouds will work their way into the area this afternoon to help preserve the snow a bit.

Yesterday, it felt like skiing in early May.  I was in just a light shell and ripping groomers at high speed and was still sweating.  It was my first time skiing at Sundance this season, and while the vast majority of the mountain is in great shape, some of the south-facing cat tracks are getting bony, to say the least:


Still, it felt good to be up in the mountains and out of the inversion.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), we finally see moisture return to Utah, but it will be from the south.  Model trends in the last 24 hours have been to take the best moisture farther west before it eventually gets ejected east into northern Utah.  This may limit how much we see, but it will also allow the system to tap more cool air so perhaps snow levels will be a bit lower.  Showers should start tomorrow afternoon with snow levels near 8,000 feet.  By Tuesday night, steadier snow will develop in Northern Utah, and snow levels will likely fall below 6,000 feet.  QPF for this system is meager and I’m only expecting 1-4″ of snow for the high Wasatch.

The University of Utah’s graphical output tool that we like so much looks like it needs to be tweaked a bit for the new upgraded GFS.  This is confirmation of my suspicions from yesterday that it might be overdoing things just a touch:




The above graph should NOT be taken seriously.  The more reliable NAM shows between 2-4″ for the upper Cottonwoods between now and Wednesday evening.

A second wave of moisture from the south moves in on Friday.  This wave is extremely moist, but it looks like the majority of the precip from it will stay south of I-70.  Still, this is something to watch as it could be a decent snow producer for the mountains of southern Utah.  If you’re desperate for powder, it’s starting to look like the San Juans of Colorado could do well late this week.  Something to think about….

Total QPF through the upcoming weekend:



You can see that most of the goods will be to our south.  I always say that something is better than nothing.  At least with a small storm you have the opportunity to be surprised by an over-producer.  The last couple weeks we haven’t even had that opportunity.  Unfortunately, dominant high pressure is going to build back in early next week.

Long range:

There is a bit more reason for optimism today than yesterday in the long range.  The Euro deterministic is trying to bring in some energy off the Pacific right at the end of it’s 10-day run (Feb 5).  The GFS waits a day or two longer, but then brings in a series of strong storms into California.  This is way out in what I call “Fantasy Land” and is far from likely to occur.  But at this point we can dream.  Here what the 06z GFS shows through the end of its 15-day run:



I highlighted Utah to make it a bit easier to see.  California gets walloped.  Chances are that this will disappear from the models in the coming days as that has been the trend lately, but it sure would be a life saver (perhaps literally) if this were to occur.  Californians desperately need to fill their reservoirs by Spring.  Their problems have now gone far beyond ski conditions.

Let’s hope this verifies!


P.S.  In case you’ve been living under a rock.  The northeastern United States is about to be hit by one of the strongest storms in recent years.  Up to a foot and a half in NYC with 2 feet+ near Boston and plenty of wind to accompany the storm.  It’s all thanks to an unusually deep trough in the east that is keeping our highly amplified ridge in place out west.  Instead of moving through the west, the storms ride way up into the Yukon before dropping all the way down to the southeastern US before lifting up the coast in typical Nor’easter fashion.  They are quite literally stealing our snow.



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  • Sam


    In all the years I’ve been reading this site, that’s probably the best line ever.

    Freaking awesome. Wish it was the post’s title it’s so good.

  • Faceplant

    You mention the San Juans but do you have any other recommendations?

    • Um… I’m assuming you mean other recommendations for where to ski… Not just general life recommendations…Right?

      Brian Head perhaps if that second wave tracks far enough west. Taos? Arizona Snow Bowl? Sugarloaf, Maine? Hokkaido, Japan?

      • Faceplant

        Thanks. I moved here to support my addiction and need a fix pretty bad.

      • Caroline


  • Phil

    If climate change ends skiing as we know it, at least you could still have a career in comedy writing. I usually laugh out loud at least once each day I read your discussions. Thanks!

  • Sam


    Normally you don’t like anything beyond 10 days, but seems like lately you are saving there isn’t much of a chance even beyond 10 days.

    Has the dry spell zapped your optimism or are the model runs beyond 10 days so bleak your listing your house for sale and checking out property in Maine?

    I ask for purely selfish reasons, I land in Utah in 13 days. You’ve got me looking at seeing if it’s possible to move our trip back a week 😐

    Time to smash the panic button, or breath and be patient?


    • Well, as mentioned in the post, there are some auspicious signs in the 10-15 day range. But if you can afford to wait a few days to see if the models stick with this idea, that is the best option. I wouldn’t panic just yet.

  • Jodie

    Sorry for stealing your snow. It’s a total waste of 2-3 feet of snow (if the forecasts are right for the Boston area). I wish we could send it back your way as we are heading out mid February.

    • being from Boston and moved here to utah in 05 i have to say that 2 feet will go to waste (not to your “waist” as we would want here). Mountains like Loon and Killington will get 6 inches while Cape Cod will get hammered with 3 feet and shut down everything. Ok everybody, time to collect some cash to get to middle of friklkin nowhere Jay Peak for some lake effect!

  • Darren

    Obviously, the snow gods have a sick sense of humor. My kids and I have been doing our nightly snowdances for the past week in anticipation of our mid February trip to UT, but instead we are getting hammered here on LI and in the northeast. Total waste of snow around here – not even close to real skiing.
    Very funny, snow gods!!

  • jim

    The 12z Canadian model has the ridge breaking down middle of next week with a series of storms off the pacific. A little optimistic perhaps but more in line with the 0z Euro.The 12z GFS still waits another 4-5 days after that before showing any significant snow. That’s a big difference between models. Just curious how the Canadian model is for accuracy compared to Euro and GFS (typically)? My observations over recent years is that it better matches the Euro. Booked a trip to Utah end of February so closely watching the situation like the rest of you.

    • I don’t put a lot of faith in the Canadian to be honest. If the GFS and EC are struggling, I’ll consult the GEM, but otherwise it tends to throw out ridiculous scenarios. You are right that it normally follows the Euro, just takes it a day or two longer to catch on than the ECMWF.

  • jim

    Appreciate the insight on that. keep up the good work.

  • Scott Beal

    I guess Presidents Day weekend looks tough – But it is what it is and my family and I are coming regardless!! Spring skiing in Feb – who would have thought.

    Thanks again for the excellent reporting:)


  • East Coast Greg

    feb 5th -8th is going to be dump city if i read your first sentence correctly. i’m going to call the ski shop now and reserve the biggest powder sticks they have. and unicorns do exist.


  • Steve

    Crossing fingers and toes on 12Z ECMWF

  • eric lewis

    Is it plausible to assume that the problem with the GFS is not an over indulgence of any local brew, but simply a misplaced decimal point?!

  • sticky

    anyone know a reputable ski snow forecast website for the tetons?

  • Guest

    • sticky

      Thank you.