More signs of change and a Niño update

Monday, August 24, 2015 at 10:51 am


Tuesday AM update:

Fairly strong monsoonal moisture surge will start to move into Utah today into tonight with widespread showers on Wednesday.

It looks like precipitation and the majority of cool air will stay north of the region this weekend into next week.  The Pacific is becoming more active, however, so it’s just a matter of time before one of these troughs sneaks into the Great Basin.


It’s Monday again.  Another week closer to winter!   Last week I spoke about how there were a few signs that a more Fall-like pattern was developing with a strengthening of the westerlies that might be able to take on the four corners high pressure that normally dictates our summer weather.   That pattern still remains in the forecast.  A large trough will drop down into the Gulf of Alaska over the next few days and should eventually drag a cold front through the region next weekend.

Here is the current height anomalies for today as forecasted by the GEFS ensembles:



The “warm” colors are indicative of high pressure over the area, keeping us toasty.  This high pressure will also allow a monsoonal moisture surge into the area on Wednesday/Thursday that should bring a good chance for showers and storms across the entire state.

This monsoonal moisture will be pushed out by next weekend as the aforementioned trough digs deeper off the Pac NW coast.  This is what the height anomalies look like for Sunday 8/30:


It certainly has been awhile since we’ve seen something like this.  Definitely a sign that the seasons are starting to change.  Right now it looks like the best energy will remain well north of us, but we should definitely see some cooler temps as we head into September.  It is possible that if this trough digs a little bit farther south and east, that we could see some showers and perhaps even some snowflakes over the highest elevations.

Not exactly winter quite yet, but at least it’s a change from the doldrums of summer.  With all the warm water in the eastern Pacific, we may also see another tropical system or two work their way north in the area, maintaining more strength than normal.  It will be an interesting September to watch the tropics!

El Niño:

Today’s CPC update shows further strengthening of the 3.4 ENSO region to +2.1C.  Another westerly wind bursts over the next few weeks should allow for further warming.  We are warming at about a tenth of the degree per week.  If we maintain this rate, we could very well have anomalies approaching +3C by late October.  The 3-month average ONI is now forecasted to reach record or near-record levels by most models:



Lots of seasonal forecasts coming out lately.  Both Old Farmer’s and Farmer’s released their winter outlooks, which, as always, are a total bag of crap.  Not saying that a few of their “predictions” aren’t right sometimes — but even a broken clock is still right twice a day.  😉  They certainly aren’t based on real science.

More reliably, the CPC released its seasonal outlooks.  You can see the forecast for the heart of winter (Jan-Feb-March) here:



Southern Utah has slightly better chances to see above average precip, whereas the far north has ever-so-slightly better chances to be below normal.   Essentially though, we are given “equal chance” to be above or below normal.  50/50.

The CFSv2 seasonal forecast model is slightly more optimistic for the same time period:



California, as expected, gets the brunt of the precipitation.  But this model indicates that Utah is just a touch above normal.   I have also in the past spoken about previous El Niño years and how we fared.

Again, this all points toward what we’ve been saying all along.  El Niño’s correlation with Utah is weak and ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  It’s good news for drought-stricken California, however.  As a weather nerd, I can’t wait to watch this all play out around the globe.  As a Utah skier, I’ll just relax and what happens will happen — no point worrying about it now.



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4 thoughts on “More signs of change and a Niño update

  1. superdoo

    The best indicator I’ve seen is what pass I purchase. Every year I’ve gone the cheap route and just picked a mid-week pass it has been great snow, when I splurge and buy the full thing we have things like last year. This year I bought a midweek pass with blackouts to hopefully affect the juju.

  2. Floyd Teter

    Had a great conversation with a neighbor this weekend…about the weather, of course! We mutually decided that the forecast for this winter was “2×2”: 2 soon to tell and 2 close to call. 🙂

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