Patience Needed

Sunday, February 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

Monday Update: 

Not much new today.  A weak front has been pushing through the area.  Very light snow showers are possible in the mountains, becoming more likely the farther north and east you travel.  We will cool down closer to average today but we warm up again starting on Tuesday through Thursday.

Attention turns to this weekend, both the Euro and GFS models have some type of trough working through the area with some snowfall likely.  Models have not been very consistent.  While this doesn’t look like a major system, it does looks like if things go our way, we could be skiing at least fresh snow at times late Friday through the weekend.  Temperatures will cool down dramatically too.  Hopefully by tomorrow the models will find common ground and I can give you a better idea what to expect.

Long-range pattern change is still there in most ensembles right at the end of the month.  Within the next few days this potential pattern change will move within range of the 10-day operational model runs and we’ll have a better idea if it is real or not.  Overall, things continue to look a little brighter in our future.





Cooler weather this week with chances for light snow showers at times.  Nothing significant in the next ten days.  Large-scale pattern change looking more likely at the end of the month.


I did not update yesterday, nor did I really even bother to check the models.  I just needed a day to get outside and enjoy the Spring weather without having to think about the fact that it is not yet Spring.  If you just pretend it is late April or early May, it can be quite pleasant.

Today, I’m back at it.  Not much has changed since Friday morning regarding our forecast for the upcoming week.  Today and tomorrow (Monday) a couple weak fronts will be dropping through the area, they will increase clouds and drop our temperatures back down to closer to normal values (at least temporarily).  A few days ago it was looking like these cold fronts might carry very cold air and some decent snowfall, but the ridge axis set up farther east than early aniticipated and, in turn, pushed the coldest air and moisture east of the Continental Divide.  We’ll be left with cooler air and perhaps a few light snow showers in the northern mountains of Utah on Monday.

Here is the view of how the pattern is set up for tomorrow… Dark green coloring is the approximate location of the jet stream which is carrying the storm energy, you can see it is just to our east:


A few reinforcing waves of energy will drop down the backside of the ridge over the next ten days,  each one has the ability to make the ridge buckle just a bit and could sneak far enough west to give us precipitation.  Each model has its own solution seemingly different with each run.  If these waves move in next weekend and track far enough west, we could be looking at measurable mountain snowfall and much colder air.  However, if the ridge is a bit stronger and/or farther east, then these waves for next weekend could take the same track as our system tomorrow and keep their energy along and east of the Rockies.  It’s a very difficult forecast as slight changes can make huge differences with regard to what we see.

The important part in all of this is that while major snowfall is not expected, this does appear like it could be a precursor to a more significant pattern change arriving by the end of the month.

The Pattern Change: 

We’ve been chasing this elusive pattern change since the beginning of January.  Each time we think it might be obtainable, we end up with only a subtle shift that may allow a weak storm in, but ultimately moves us into yet another dry pattern.  Right now there’s a pattern change in the cards for the end of the month.  There are a few things that might make this different from the phantom pattern changes we’ve been seeing from time to time over the past six weeks.  First, it’s been in all the major models for about the past week with very little exception.  Second, there are some changing teleconnections that give a pattern change like this merit.  Third, the spring season is approaching and the higher sun angle adds an extra ingredient into the mix that can often stir the whole pot and spit out a new pattern.  Finally, this pattern change will happen because if it doesn’t, Mother Nature is going to have to face the wrath of the entire ski/snowboard community of western North America!

If you check out these animations, you can see us transition from dominant high pressure to a trough by the end of the month as the high pressure retrogrades west out into the central Pacific:





So you can see both models show the high pressure being replaced by a trough by the end of the month.

Now for the disclaimers….

*This is still beyond 10 days out which is farther than model reliability extends.  There’s certainly a chance this disappears from the models.

**Pattern changes often take longer than models originally predict to occur, so even if this does occur, it may end up being over the first few days of March rather than the end of February.

***Even if the pattern change does take place, it is not a guarantee of big storms.  For all we know, this could be a change to another dry pattern.  At this time, this looks like a much stormier pattern, but you never know….

I know when you look at these graphs and hear about this pattern change you’re tempted to just say…


…but I urge you to have patience.  We all want a Miracle March to bury not only the mountains, but also to bury this dry spell deep in our memories.  To change a pattern as stubborn as this one, it will take time.  Keep the faith!


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  • Laura

    Thank you WSF for keeping YOUR faith and keeping us all updated and educated. Not giving up hope yet and I hope this pattern change comes to fruition for both Utah and CA.

  • alex

    It is cooler in Orlando than it is in the wasatch. Crazy talk.

    Coming in next week from Orlando and I’m praying for snow every day. Nice to see some weather changes in the forecast.

    • Sam

      Alex, I just got back to Orlando from Park City. It was colder in Orlando when i was in Utah also. Crazy stuff.

  • Kevin

    As the snow continues to fall almost daily here in New England I am thinking of canceling my trip to Utah in late March. I’m afraid all the skiing will be done there.

    • Kevin, I wouldn’t worry about there not being enough snow. We don’t usually peak in snowpack until the middle of April. I promise there will still be plenty of good skiing to be had, especially in the Cottonwood Canyons.

      • Jeff

        That is good to hear as I have a March 8th trip booked. I live just north of Boston and look at an absolute staggering amount of snow here with more to come.Thanks for all your work and updates

  • Greg

    Coming from Auburn, Alabama (War Eagle) to enjoy the fresh snow that’s going to come down this coming weekend!!! THINK POSITIVE!

  • Dan

    I have noticed your predictions for a pattern change in the near future is in synch with josh fox and the single chair weather blog. I once again have a lot of faith in a muclear march for the wasatch

  • jack

    Repeat of March 2014 in the cards?? That *almost* made up for the year.. Would be beautiful if we could see anything close to that series

  • good times in PC

    spent three days in PC and had a blast. Snowpack is thinning but most everything is open. The cooler temps are making the slushed snow more hard packed so watch out.. Im getting a kick out of all the ‘its better back east’ comments but this one took the cake yesterday

    “I’m moving to Stowe next year. It may not always snow there, but I won’t have to worry about the society-altering drought that will be sweeping the west over the next couple of years. Enjoy the dust, firestorms and water wars that will be coming to a region near you soon.”

    I swear thats my ex that posted that under the disguise of ‘ben’… all negative and short sighted..

    ben, dont come back…

  • Jiri Kadlec

    Report from the Provo ridge: In the last two weeks there’s been lots of snowmelt in lower elevations below 7,000 ft and at south- and west- facing slopes. The snowline has moved up from 6,000 to 7,000 ft. On the other hand, north-facing aspects didn’t lose much snow. Good news is that colder temperatures are returning, stopping further thinning of the snowpack until the next storm. A nice trail for cross-country skiing goes along the Squaw Peak road from the overlook until Camel Pass and beyond. It’s worth it carrying your skis up there. Provo Peak and Lion’s Head have great coverage for backcountry downhill runs.

  • Allyn61

    Thanks for all the great reports. Usually we get storms when my husband and I leave the state; we leave on 25 Feb for Florida for a week. Hope we get dumped on.

  • I could not have made it through this dark period in Utah skiing/boarding without you. Thank you for being there