The end. At least on paper.

Monday, May 11, 2015 at 8:56 am

Saturday 5/16 Forecast:

10 PM update:

The heavy snow finally dropped far enough south to hose the Cottonwoods.  A moist northwest flow has been dropping heavy snow for several hours.  Alta-Collins station reporting 6″+ inches of snow on the ground since this afternoon.  I’d guess they could easily see another 4-8″ overnight.  That means totals up in the upper part LCC and BCC of probably 8-14″.  Sunday touring should be great! Get it early. As soon as the high sun angle hits it, it will turn to concrete and become even more likely to slide.  Be careful!




Dear Mother Nature,

Why are you doing this to us? You think this is fucking funny!?!  You give us the driest, warmest January-February-March period on record and now it’s May, the lifts aren’t running, and mentally we’ve moved on to summer mode.  Yet now you decide to bring a perpetual parade of storms into the area?!?  One storm today/tonight with 4-8″ of snow above 8,000 feet!  Another storm on Tuesday.  Another on Wednesday and Thursday.  Another next weekend…?!? You are cruel.  I’ll hike your mountains and ski your powder despite your brutish pranks.  I vow to have the last laugh.


Skiers and Boarders of Utah


El Nino:

I touched on this once a few weeks ago, but since there are so many rumblings of El Nino already in the media, it’s probably worth going over again.  Right now forecasts are calling for a 60% chance of El Nino persisting into next winter.  You may remember that late last Spring into last summer,  El Nino was forecasted going into the 2014-15 Winter.  You may be wondering what happened to those predictions…?  Well, we did eventually see El Nino develop, albeit later than forecasted and very weak.  In fact we are in El Nino currently and the warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures that define El Nino continue to rise, meaning our El Nino is strengthening.

What is important to note is that El Nino DOES NOT necessarily mean that we are destined for a good year in Northern Utah.  In fact, weak to moderate El Nino events historically have been at or even slightly below normal seasonal snowfall.  So if El Nino remains in a weakened state heading into next season, and the PDO (warm waters off Baja and California) remains strongly positive, we could be looking at a similar situation next season as we had this season.  However, strong El Nino events generally do favor the Wasatch to some degree.  Including our record setting 1982-83 season.  The takeaway here is that Northern Utah wants two things to occur:  1) El Nino to continue to strengthen to the point of being considered “strong” for next winter, and 2) the waters of the Eastern Pacific to cool relative to last year (e.g. a more neutral PDO index).

The good news is that right now the CFSv2 wants to take the El Nino index into “strong” regions by this Fall:



It is once again important to note that I put very little faith in this forecast.  The CFSv2 has not proven itself to be very accurate in predicting ENSO conditions.  We will just have to wait and see what transpires over the next 5 or 6 months.  Also remember, this is NOT a forecast for next winter.  I am simply going over the current conditions and what could happen and what that might mean for Utah.  It’s just about as speculative as it gets.  Due to the inscrutability of Mother Nature, making a seasonal forecast in October is an almost impossible undertaking.  Making one in May would be sensationally daft.

Let’s watch this closely through the summer and then maybe we can start to make some educated guesses this Fall about what may occur.

Summer for WSF:

If this is the first summer you’ve spent as a WSF reader, then you may be wondering what becomes of us over the off-months.  Well, I don’t do much forecasting in the summer.  While many have asked for summer camping, hiking, biking, etc forecasts, it’s just not the same as winter.  Summer weather events are generally characterized by convective storms (thunderstorms).  Due to the spotty nature of these storms, it becomes much more difficult to really discuss anything in blog format as I do in the winter.  The best you can really do is say “there will be a 30% chance of a thunderstorm tomorrow,” and the National Weather Service can do that just fine without my help, so I encourage you to consult their forecasts for your summer recreation planning.

What I do do (“hehe, he said ‘doodoo'”) is make occasional posts similar to the El Nino discussion above where I comment on what is currently going on in the world of meteorology, climatology and oceanography that could have an impact on our upcoming winter.  I will also at least discuss notable monsoonal moisture surges from time to time.  Overall though, I relax and take a break from Wx forecasting during the summer so I can recharge my batteries and prepare for another Winter of frustration and elation that inevitably comes with being a weather wonk and powder skier.

There ya go!  Have a great summer!



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17 thoughts on “The end. At least on paper.

  1. deven

    I Appreciate what you do here, it is accurate forecasting in a comprehensible format. I look forward to your updates!

  2. Yo

    Locals in Utah complain so much about how dry and terrible the ski season was this year. Having skied Tahoe the last couple years but moved to SLC this season I’d just like to say please stop complaining!! I had a lot of great powder days here in the Wasatch this season and am grateful for every inch of snow that we got.

    1. I

      I just moved from CO where we had a great season last winter… I agree, this season had some seriously great days and cant complain at all! Snowbird’s rock bottom worst season ever is equal to Vail’s average – crazy right?

      I’m sure the longer you live here, the more jaded you get though!

  3. R

    WSFC n00b here as it’s my first season following this blog but I sure appreciate a snow riding meteorologist viewpoint. Keep up the good work

  4. Mike

    I enjoyed a (heavy) powder day in the BC last Sunday, and intend to get in another this weekend if your final prediction rings true. Thanks!

  5. Peter Donner

    Love your analysis Evan, lotsa great info.

    Dennis Hartmann did a guest post on the ENSO blog where he talked about how we are in a strongly positive North Pacific Mode (NPM). In the comments he distinguishes between PDO, which you identify, and the NPM. According to Hartmann, the NPM seems to be the proximate cause of the “death” ridge we have experienced the last two winters.

    Full story

  6. HS

    Thank you so much for all you do! I read your posts religiously and appreciate how detailed, informative and accurate they are!

  7. Lien

    Thank you very much! I have been following and I have to say this is one of the reasons I stay in Utah.

  8. Diane Maggipinto

    Thanks, Evan! Super to meet you at Snowbasin at Ski Utah Media Day, and to find out about WSF. Looking forward to more next season. More weather, more forecasts, more powder, more turns (though this weekend beckons, too).
    Have a great summer vacation!

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