The Journey Out of Mordor is Fraught With Peril

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 7:22 am


2-5″ of fresh snow fell in the Wasatch over the past 24 hours which should make for some soft turns.  High pressure takes control for the rest of the this week into the weekend.  A pattern shift still looking likely sometime next week.


Yesterday’s storm was certainly nothing spectacular but we saw a defined front push through followed but some instability showers during the evening and overnight.  Yesterday we had forecasted 1-2″ with localized areas of 3-5″ possible.  Today most resorts are reporting at least 2″ with several reporting 4 or 5″, so I’d say we did as well as we could have hoped.  I will not be able to get up on the hill today so please comment with how it skis if you’re up there.

From today moving forward high pressure takes control for the rest of week and into the weekend.  Temperatures are going to soar once again and Spring skiing returns as Furnace February continues.  President’s Day weekend should be great though, just not powdery great.

Long-range models still in agreement that there will be a pattern shift some time late next week, probably toward the end of the week (2/20…ish).  The deterministic and operational runs of the models are almost useless right now because every run has a different scenario.  Some suggest a strong storm or even series of storms will others suggest only weak impulses dropping out of Canada with the ridge still firm to our west.  The point is, until there is more agreement, I’m not going to put my trust in any one solution.  However, agreement is good that there will be a change to the overall pattern.  This is the Euro ensemble mean heights for this week (2/12):


The ridge is so strong and amplified with its axis right over us that I’m reminded of the Tower of Isengard.  By next week, things start to change:


You can see that the high pressure gets pushed up over Alaska, this will potentially allow cold air and maybe some systems in the back door.  It might also let the jet stream undercut the ridge and bring us systems via the Pacific.

You’ll notice I use the term “pattern shift” rather than “pattern change”.  A shift is a subtler term for the over pattern undergoing a shift.  In a pattern shift, you can get quick changes such as the ridge temporarily shifting northwestward.  In this case, we could get a storm or two, but overall the pattern remains more-or-less the same.  Now I’m not saying that this can’t develop into a full-scale pattern change, but it’s a bit early for us to know whether this will be just a quick shift or something greater.  Anyway, over the coming days my attention will be fully focused on the long-range as I try to figure out what the most likely scenario for us is.  Stay tuned… Any change is good change and hopefully we can take down Sauron and his mighty ridge of high pressure.




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  • Sam

    Heading to the bird now

  • Kiptron

    I’m guessing it will be dust on crust given the forecasted 29F high temp at snowbird today…

  • jim

    Hang in there Frodo, you will be back in the shire soon enough… Euro monthly from yesterday looks very good 18-25th. 6z GFS operational not bad, tries to bring cold down week of 22nd. That’s a start. The models are having trouble dealing with the next two weeks, could be a good sign. Better than showing a big “H” over the area for weeks on end, no?

  • you could have also gone with “we are right in the middle of the eye or Mordor” (roll the tongue on the R for emphasis)

  • Steely Dad

    I read that the Ethel Duath received 24″ of blower. The only problem is you’ve got to contend with the Orcs.

    • Ben

      They have good avy control though and nazgul drops for skiing the peaks

  • brig

    The models must be pretty sketchy. Probably don’t have much historic data on weather patterns this time of year after such a long period of high pressure and warm temps. The Wasatch Weather Weenies site had data on a similar ridging pattern back in 81 I believe.

    Keep the faith.

    Furnace February is quite apt.

  • Darren

    Anyone with comments on snow conditions at LCC/BCC resorts? We arrive Saturday night and are contemplating 6 days of skiing at LCC/BCC using our place at Canyons as base camp or driving up to Jackson Hole but only getting 4 1/2 days in there. Any guidance from the local faithful would be greatly appreciated!

    • Tom

      Hi Darren, we’ve had 4 days at JH. Okay right up top but mush down below. Still very beautiful. The snow has been melting fast with the warm temperatures.

  • LJ

    Hi Darren, Last weekend Big Cottonwood was basically spring conditions. Solitude was pretty firm in the morning but softening as the day progressed (with areas of full on mush). Higher on the mt there were a few areas of somewhat decent snow on sheltered N facing aspects with a tiny bit of new snow around from the small storm on thurs or friday. It seemed to have helped a little. I would expect about the same this weekend in the cottonwoods. JH seems to be doing quite a bit better although I havent been up that way since New Years. Have Fun!

  • TR

    I have a feeling March is going to be insane.

  • Sam

    Soft but not deep at the bird. Dusty ppb crusty in spots but much better than I expected.

    Thanks WSF Evan for your daily post!

    Great spring skiing, taking the jacket off.

  • Darren

    Thanks, LJ!
    Anything is better than the east coast, even with all their fresh snow which turns to ice before you can blink.
    If the coverage is still decent at LCC/BCC, I think we may stay local and enjoy the corn snow and sun. Jackson supposed to be unseasonably warm too.

  • jim

    12z runs continue to disappoint. It has been suggested that 1980-81 was a similar pattern to this winter for December and January. Does anyone know how what happened in February and March? May give us some clues as to what may happen this year.

  • evansalta

    ’80-81 @Alta Guard: Nov 40″, Dec 34″, Jan 73″, Feb 82″, March 110″, April 52″ =391″ total

    • jim

      Thanks. So there is hope for late Feb. and March.

  • evansalta

    Yep, it seems like it!

  • Brighton was really nice, i got up there about 11am and left around 1:30 for work. Trees were awesome.. That little storm helped a bit.

  • Oak

    PC surprisingly good today. Turns were soft indeed. Plenty of fresh in and around the trees – didn’t have to look too hard to find it. The base area was the exception – hard as a rock in the AM and then corn in the afternoon. I did not go up to Jupiter (young kids) so no comment there. Was nice to see PC rooftops with a little dusting this AM to remind us that it is winter after all. A pretty good day all things considered.

  • Will it ever snow again in Tahoe?

    We have a trip planned for next week, but instead of skiing 4 days, I think we’ll probably drive to Jackson Hole, ski 2 days up there, and then drive back. Any suggestions for slopeside lodging in Teton Village?

    • Craig

      The Inn will be your best (and cheapest option). Enjoy The Big One!!

  • Bob

    JH skied reasonably well this weekend, but the anticipated storm only dropped a few inches. Still, the snow was crisp on the upper mountain and conditions were good. Even a few powder turns left from the storm early last week. Plenty more for a hike. Tropical at the base.
    Alta got really sweet end of day yesterday, 3-4 inches of fast cream on groomers, and today was great skiing in what powder we had. Five inches, but just enough cover. Float, scrape, float, but was really fun to lay fresh tracks in, especially in the deeper, blow in spots…
    Drive to Jackson really worth it, though. Thanks for all the great forecasts. It’s frustrating but we’re working with what mother nature’s dealing.

    • Todd

      Canyons was nice today but variable. Lots of snow to be found in the trees on most N aspects. By normal standards it would be mediocre at best but this year it was good fun so I rode from 9-4. All a matter of perspective I guess…

  • Rob Creer

    Thanks for the informative and entertaining forecasts. We’re coming over soon from the ‘Shire’ and having ski-ed a load of N America but never Utah we’re looking forward to the neck deep powder! If it’s less than perfect, where in the area would people recommend?

    • Any of the four resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons are good right now in terms of coverage. They also just see more snow. If we are lucky enough to get fresh snow, I’d recommend Powder Mountain a day or two after the storm. You can get fresh pow there for days, especially if you’re willing to work a bit for it. Enjoy yourself, Rob.

  • Rob

    Thanks, looking forward to it…