August Musings

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 8:23 am

We are rolling through summer… It won’t be long now until we start seeing noticeably cooler weather as autumn moves in.

El Niño continues to strengthen in the Pacific — now solidly into a “strong” state with further strengthening likely.  Important to note that El Niño does not always mean good things for us.  You can read more about what history suggests in this post from last month.  Also, if you want to read more about “the Blob” which has been at least partly responsible for our dry winters in recent years,  I wrote a guest blog for Ski Utah.  El Niño vs. The Blob …. Check it out if you haven’t already!

The west has certainly had an interesting summer weather-wise so far.  California has had a remarkable amount of thunderstorm activity.  In July, the remnants of Hurricane Dolores brought record rainfall to SoCal.  How unusual was the rain? Well, San Diego saw more rain in 3 days than they had seen in every other July on record…  COMBINED!  Truly astonishing!  Here in Utah, we cooled down for most of July after our record heat for the last few weeks of June.  We’ve had periodic moisture move into the region, bringing showers and a few thunderstorms.  On Monday, August 3rd, we had a very unusual rain event of our own.  Stratiform precipitation in the morning hours brought widespread rainfall to Northern Utah.  Many locations saw over an inch with some areas along the northern Wasatch Front receiving over 3 inches of rain!  Personally, I have never seen anything like it in August in Utah.  All the moisture has helped to mitigate what we were once fearing would be a disastrous wildfire season in the state.

Another moisture surge will be pushing into Utah on Friday (August 7) of this week with the possibility for widespread showers and thunderstorms.  However, another deep low pressure system (we’ve seen a number of these over the past month)  will push into the west and push out the moisture by later in the weekend.  Right now it looks like we should have dry weather to start next week with a chance for moisture to return by the middle of the month.  Fairly typical off and on monsoonal surges for August.

I have received a number of questions regarding whether or not all this moisture has to do with El Niño or if it means anything for the upcoming winter.  I’d say, not really.  For sure El Niño is a contributing factor in steering some of these tropical cyclones farther north than would normally be typical.  And there does seem to be a correlation to slightly stronger monsoons in El Niño years.  But it would be a stretch to say that getting rain now has any bearing on our winter outlook.  As I’ve said all along, anything can happen.  We’ll just have to wait and see… Statistics tell us it’s almost guaranteed to be better than last year!  😉


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  • Sam

    “Statistics tell us it’s almost guaranteed to be better than last year! ;-)”

    dang it man….. couldn’t help but Jinx it at the end….

  • Spank Tickleman

    Unfortunately, it could be better than last and still be horrible as far as winter sports are concerned but we are eternally optimistic!! We’re due for a 6 month long whiteout….

  • Tim

    I’m coming to Utah to ski for the first time this year. What’s it usually like in early December?

    • Very much depends on what resorts you are skiing and how much snow we get in the early season. If we have a good November, then skiing will likely be good throughout. However, if we have a slow start to the season, your best bet is to stick to resorts that have the highest elevation and/or receive the most snow. Usually this means resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood.