Friday, September 25, 2015 at 8:01 am

Monday update:

A bit cooler early this week, but still above average.  A more prominent cold front will move into the area Thursday night thru Friday, bringing a chance for showers and perhaps some snow (mostly above 9,000 feet).   General trends through the first half of October would favor ridging and warmth.  As mentioned earlier, warm/dry Autumns are fairly typical during strong El Nino years.  WSF



Record warmth today (Friday) and Saturday with highs in lower elevations perhaps topping 90 degrees.  Yuck!  After our first snow in the high elevations last week, we’ve reverted back to an Indian Summer pattern.  A trough off the pacific coast is fueling a SW flow that is keeping us warm and dry.  On Sunday, the trough off the coast will try to eject some of its energy inland.  GFS has been remarkable consistent at bringing in enough moisture for showers across northern Utah early next week.  The EC, on the other hand, has been equally consistent at keeping any appreciable moisture to our north.  At this point, it looks like a bit of a cool down and some clouds are a guarantee for Sunday-Wednesday — and if the GFS is right, there could be a chance for showers as well.

Not too much consistency in the long-range.  Models have generally looked pretty boring with a stubborn pattern dominating North America.  Today’s 00z EC showed a system bringing a chance for rain and high elevation snow to our area during the first week of October, but as it’s only one run of one model, I wouldn’t put too much faith in that idea quite yet.  Eventually we’ll get some active weather into the region, but there’s no rush…  Getting snow this time of year does more harm than good.  Might as well wait for the end of October when we stand a better chance of seeing consistent storms.

Winter Outlook:

I’ve backed away from the El Nino talk quite a bit over the last month or two.  Partly because no matter how often you state that El Nino doesn’t mean much for Northern Utah, people still buy into the hype and expect an 800″ winter.  Mostly though, it’s because I don’t really have anything more to say on the subject.  I wrote a few posts in July and August that described what El Nino is and what it can mean for the west, and for Utah.  So at this point, there is just not much more to say aside from “It’s still out there, still strengthening, still doesn’t mean much for us.”

But, at least now, we are getting a little bit closer to winter and we can look at what seasonal forecast models are projecting with a touch more confidence.  If you’re a longtime reader, you know that I have a poor relationship with the CFSv2 seasonal forecast model.  I would put significant money down on a bet that my dog could make a better winter forecast than the CFSv2 over the past few years.  But still… It’s there, so I check it…  Right now it’s showing a relatively slow and warm start to the ski season.  That means that October and November could be warmer than average with below normal snowfall for much of the West.  This is pretty typical of an El Nino year.  Usually, Nino picks up the pace during December and really does its thing during January and February.

Here is the current Dec-Jan-Feb precipitation anomalies as forecasted currently by the CFSv2:


You can see that California, predictably, gets hosed.  Utah’s signal, unsurprisingly, is almost entirely neutral.  This further reiterates what I’ve said all along.  Anything can happen for us during an El Nino year.  We could be above average like 82-83 and (to a lesser extent) 97-98.. or we could be below average.  What will happen will happen — and when it does we’ll forecast it for you.  Don’t get too caught up in seasonal forecasts though, they really don’t mean a thing.

Enjoy the beautiful Fall weather!


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  • John Dubock

    Your dog does forecasts? Does he have a blog?

    • No blog, but he did warn me each of the last 4 years that we were in for a “ruff” winter.

  • Evan! thanks for all the insight and digestible knowledge you pass along! This question is a bit off topic, but I was curious if you had a off-the-top of your head (quick) opinion of where the cloud coverage will be thin/non-existant for this Sunday’s Lunar eclipse. Do you think that it’ll be too cloudy up north and potetentially cloud free, say, around Price, UT? Thanks in advance, and enjoy the super-blood moon!

    • Hey, I’m going out viewing tonight too. Right now it looks like it should be mostly clear. Clouds tend to form and hang around elevations more — so open basins are the best shot to avoid them.

      • By ‘tonight’ do you mean Sunday night? That’s when the Lunar eclipse/fullmoon is occurring. Tonight does look to be clear, but the forecast for tomorrow is lookin a bit bleaker- wondering how far south the clouds might stretch? Thanks for the thought on the basins and clouds at elevations !

  • Alex

    Just curious, why does snow this time of year hurt more than it helps?

    • Hey Alex… snow early in the season is often more at risk to then experience long periods of dry, warm weather before winter really sets in for good. That snow then “rots” and creates a weak base layer that can plague snowpack stability for the rest of the season, i.e. high avalanche danger. It’s bad news for backcountry skiers in particular. Resorts are avy controlled so the impact is not nearly as great in-bounds.