Picking up the tempo

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 6:54 am


A chance for light snow today (Wednesday) as Brighton kicks off the lift-serviced season in the Wasatch.  More snow will be possible Thursday night into Friday morning, with a bit of opening day powder for Snowbird and Alta.  A break this weekend before a potentially large trough affects the West leading up to Thanksgiving.


Lots to talk about today.  First, Brighton opens today!  Let’s celebrate the start of the lift-serviced ski season in Utah!


There is a weak wave passing through today that will likely fire up a few snow showers in the mountains.  Accumulations should be very light with only an inch or two max.  We should clear out again later today.

Then, we have a second wave moving in Thursday night into Friday, just in time for the opening of Alta and Snowbird on Friday.  This wave looks stronger, and could generate more appreciable accumulations.  Here is what the NAM is portraying for the Upper Cottonwoods over the next few days:


Other areas to the north, such as Beaver Mountain should also do well.  Here is map of forecasted amounts via the 4km NAM-WRF composite:


This high resolution model generally overdoes the totals, so I wouldn’t pay much attention to the legend on the right, but still, it shows where the best snowfall will fall thru Friday.

Right now, I’d guess up to 6″ is possible in the Cottonwoods with much lower amounts elsewhere.  Beaver mountain could get 4-8″.  Nothing major, obviously, but hopefully enough to soften up the opening day turns in LCC.

A break with warmer temperatures this weekend.  Then things start to get interesting in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as a trough digs down the backside of an amplified eastern Pacific ridge.  This trough will bring cold air and the potential for snow to much of the West.  The GFS and the Euro differ in exactly how they handle the system.  The GFS undercuts the ridge with more moisture — the first time a fairly typical El Nino pattern has shown up so far in the models.  The Euro doesn’t tap into undercutting moisture and is therefore less bullish on precip amounts.   Either way, I think starting next Tuesday or Wednesday, we should see cold air and chances for snow — perhaps significant — as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday.  Here is a look at the forecasted heights for Thanksgiving:


Notice the strong low pressure over Northern California, spinning moisture into the West coast.

It will be fun to watch this pattern evolve!

Here is an updated look at west-wide snowpack numbers.  You can see that generally, the farther south and west you go, the better the early season numbers are.  This is pretty much the exact opposite of the last few years.  Like I said before, the overall pattern is very different than what we saw last year.  I like our chances of returning to more typical Utah snowfall numbers this season.


Stay tuned…




This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .
  • Matthew Crain

    You mention the Cottonwoods, but do you think the Park City area will get any snow on Thursday/Friday?

    • Yeah, there should be a few snow showers in PC and maybe an inch or two, but it’s a northwest flow and the topography of the Cottonwoods is favored in this type of flow.