Friday AM update:
Today (Friday) and Saturday will be extremely warm across Utah with temps approaching record levels. A very subtle, dry cool front will bring temps down a touch on Sunday. Additional systems will be pushing into the PNW and British Columbia next week. It looks like later in the work week one trough could drop energy far enough south to bring us even cooler temps and some showers.
The general trend is for the ridge to build somewhere in the Eastern Pacific in early April rather than right on top of us. Depending on exactly where this ridge axis sets up, we could fall into a more active pattern with storms dropping in from the northwest after Easter. The PNA index is forecasted to go negative around April 1 and the MJO is now moving into more favorable phases. Ordinarily this would support a pattern change, however, this winter has been far from ordinary so my confidence is not high just yet… We’ll keep watching…WSF
The storm earlier this week, while softening things up for us a bit, did little to help the snowpack. Here is Snowbird snotel:
This shows our current year (dark blue line), the previous three years (green, light blue, red lines), and the median (purple line). As we all know, we are well below the median. 63% of the median at Snowbird, to be exact. We are also now substantially below the previous 3 years. During a 10-day stretch second half of December, we saw approx. 10″ of liquid added to our snowpack. This brought us to 130% of median at New Years — an auspicious start. That ten day stretch turned out to be a season-saving storm cycle, because since then, we’ve seen only 5″ of liquid added to the snowpack over nearly 3 months! Truly remarkable 2015 so far….
For Park City, the snowpack in Thaynes Canyon looks like this currently:
Well below the last three years and only 61% of median. You can see that the mid-March warmth started to melt the snowpack a bit too before the recent storm boosted it back up a touch. I’d expect the SWE numbers to drop again over the next few days with more warmth forecasted.
Ben Lomond Peak, up near Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, is really struggling:
BLP only has 38% of median SWE and only about a third of what it had this time last year. You can also see how detrimental the warm Wx last week was to the snowpack. This week’s storm only helped a touch to recover the 5″ of liquid that was lost.
Finally, a look at Tony Grove Lake outside of Logan:
Tony Grove Lake has been our tiny ray of hope this season. It is one of the only locations in the Wasatch that isn’t worse off than each of the last 3 seasons. TGL is actually ahead of 2013 and about even with 2012. Still below median however, sitting at 79%. You can see they also lost some SWE but gained back almost 2.5″ of it in this week’s storm.
The poor 2015 has been felt throughout the Western CONUS… In fact, as it currently stands, only 2 basins in the entire western states have above median snowpack:
One basin in Western Wyoming and the Bear River basin on the Utah/Idaho border. That’s it for the entire west. Everybody else is below normal. Even the “green” basins of Wyoming and Montana are somewhat deceiving as their snowpack is mostly contained to the high elevations. Resorts like Jackson Hole are actually mostly devoid of snow on the lower mountain.
After all this bad news, the most amazing thing is where we currently stand in the Wasatch, specifically the Cottonwood Canyons, relative to other parts of the country. According to OnTheSnow, Alta and Snowbird are currently in the Top 10 for deepest snow depth in the country. If you measured just the snow depth at the base of the mountain, they’d probably be in the Top 5. Alta’s base can also be verified using the Alta-Collins sensor which is currently reading 77″ of snow. To be having our worst season ever, and still be that high on the list is amazing.
Let’s hope for a wet Spring and a different pattern next winter!