Changes… But not ideal…

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 8:05 am

Wednesday AM update:

Cooler air has arrived.  On Thursday a reinforcing wave of cool air and even some snow will push in to the area.  Right now it looks like an enhanced area of precipitation will develop somewhere between I-80 and I-70, which would put the Cottonwoods and PC on the northern edge.  If we get under this band of precip, the mountain could see a few inches of snow.  However, if the band sets up farther south, we could get zilch.  I would set your expectations low, but perhaps if we get lucky, Thursday will feature some soft turns.

A break this weekend for your egg hunting pleasure.  Right now it looks like we’ll have a series of systems next week, but their strength and track remain in question.  The GFS has one system on Monday, and second one on its heels for Wednesday and another for late the following weekend.  The EC, however, cuts off the first system and has it weakening and splitting as it moves east.  This kinda throws a wrench in the track of any subsequent systems.  In short, the EC doesn’t look nearly as promising for snowfall.  Right now, I’m hoping the GFS has a better handle on things.

You may have given up on winter and skiing, but we need a late season storm cycle to ease the drought if nothing else.  As I mentioned yesterday, the MJO is now favorable for the first time in what feels like years.  The PNA index is going negative.  The pattern is changing for the next 1-2 weeks, however, it’s Spring and storms just have a more difficult time forming this time of year.  If only this happened mid-winter!   WSF

P.S.  How bad was March 2015?  We were all hoping for a Miracle March that would pull us back from the depths of a horrid January and February period.  The month had an auspicious start, with 10-25″ falling throughout the Wasatch in the first few days of the month.  Then, high pressure took over and barely loosened its grip through the rest of the month.  More warm temps.  Hardly any more snow.  Our storm last week was the only other snowfall we saw for the entire month.   The UAC’s records for Alta-Guard show that the worst March on record since WWII was 35″ in 1956.   If my calculations are correct, we saw somewhere between 33-36″ at Alta this March.  We’ll have to see in the coming days what their official measurement is, but it’s possible that we set a new record minimum snowfall.  Not what we needed coming off two previous near-record low months.  January-March 2015 is far and away the worst such period in recorded history for the Wasatch Range.  Ouch!




A warm day on Tuesday with increasingly strong winds.  Cold front pushes through tonight with much colder temps on Wednesday.  Precipitation looks unlikely with this first front, however a reinforcing wave could bring snow showers to the region on Thursday.  Accumulations should remain light (an inch or two max).

A break this weekend with warming temps before another trough looks set to affect the area early next week (April 7-8).  At this time the models have been trending weaker with this trough and bring in mostly just cold air and light showers.

The long range pattern remains progressive for the next couple weeks.  If you look at GEFS mean heights, you can see that generally the pattern favors troughing.  The “blue” areas on this map are indicative of troughing:



You can see that in general we are about to enter a pattern favorable for storms, so why none in the forecast?  It’s Spring.  The metaphorical well is starting to dry up.  If this happened a month ago, things might have been different.  It’s still possible that some of these systems come in deeper and stronger than expected, but at this point significant snow in the next 7-10 days looks unlikely.

At least the cold temps will help preserve existing snowfall for a bit longer….


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17 thoughts on “Changes… But not ideal…

  1. FredS

    Is there a connection between the strong ridges and southwest flows we have had this winter and the much stronger monsoon patterns we have had the last couple summers? Different seasons, but they seem pretty similar…

  2. Steve

    I haven’t heard much about how the low snow pack is expected to affect water issues this summer. Thoughts?

    1. FredS

      Utah snowpack is at 48% of normal, and the whole Colorado basin is at 65%. Lakes Powell and Mead are at 45 and 40% of capacity and will be going lower. Count on watering restrictions, brown lawns, an early rafting season and pissed off farmers.

  3. Mark

    Has anybody been to Brighton or Solitude this week (Monday or Tuesday) who can report on conditions?

    1. barry

      We are at Solitude today. Lots of dirt, rocks and grass but still plenty of snow. Once it softened up, we had a good time. Lite crowds so the groomed runs stayed better longer than you would expect. Some slush near the end of the day and few ice patches but not too much and didn’t interfere. Was still hitting fresh corduroy at noon. It is still better than the snow we have in Florida.

  4. Christi Line

    If we are seriously getting the energy to get a change in pattern, don’t discount the amount of moisture that could come with a spring storm that is properly aimed. What is the general trend of the models over the next 3-4 weeks (if there are any preliminary forecasts out that far)? More of the same ridge?

  5. Brian

    Has anyone been to Deer Valley or PCMR this week? Am heading out west with the family on Monday and want to know what conditions to expect. Thanks

    1. Mark

      I was at DV on Monday, and they still had snow and many runs open. Slushy conditions in the afternoon, but still fun. I don’t know how it will hold up over the next week, though. Don’t bother with PCMR–it’s a mess. My advice is to just go to the Cottonwoods. Alta still skiing very nicely, despite the lack of snowfall this season.


        I am heading to Utah from Michigan April 4. Any idea how the canyons are holding up?

  6. Sam

    Crazy, cali has 5% of normal? Wow.

    “It is such an unprecedented lack of snow,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey Program. He’s been attending the snowpack measurements since 1987 and said he had never before seen the ground barren of snow on April 1. “It’s way below the records.”

    It’s another foreboding sign for a state languishing in drought as the wet season winds to a close.

    Electronic readings on Wednesday at about 100 stations across the Sierra showed that the water content of the snow was only about 5% of the state average for April 1, the date on which snowpack is normally considered at its peak. Official manual readings will be announced Wednesday afternoon.

  7. Mark

    Did anybody get up to one of the Big or Little Cottonwood resorts that can report on conditions now that the temps have dropped? My brother flies in this evening with 3 kids and while I think I’ve set their expectations low enough that they won’t be surprised by the current conditions I’m a bit concerned that the cold may keep the pack locked up to the point where it’s dangerous tomorrow. What do you think?

  8. Floyd Teter

    Strongly agree on big storm needed to relieve drought conditions. Did you catch the news that California went on mandatory water rationing today?

  9. Mat Stauffer

    My forecast, put away the skis, bust out the flip flops and sharpen the blade on the mower. The Euro, EFS GFS acuweather every foreecast and boy who cried wolf has been a complete incorrect, inaccurate mess. Winter is over, it was a bust of all bust and I am enjoying the warm sand in Kauai:)

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