December will start out with a warm up for the high elevations and inversions forming in the valleys. A weak system later this week could bring a few snow showers. Pattern change back to snowy weather is likely around the 10th of the month.
Right now we are in a very quiet pattern with high pressure building. Temps aloft are warming so the mountains should be much warmer today and tomorrow than they have been any day since Thanksgiving. Like it or not, we are entering inversion season and they should develop in the valleys with haze and cool temps. Yuck!
Our next chance for snow will be on Friday into Friday night as a system moves in off the Pacific. It will be weakening rapidly and I don’t expect it to carry much strength as the cold front moves through the region, but a few snow showers are possible. Orographics behind the front could enhance snowfall just a bit for the Cottonwoods, but even so, accumulations should be minimal.
There will be another similar weakening system for sometime early next week that could bring northern Utah some additional snow showers. Right now, all global models shift the ridging out to about 160w in the Pacific by the end of next week. That will allow a cold trough to develop over the western U.S. It’s still early, but it looks like a pattern that could produce decent snow across the area starting sometime around December 10th-11th. Still way too early for confidence or details, but something to watch for sure. Currently, all models show some type of active weather re-developing.
November Wrap-up / Snowpack:
November is in the books. Officially, November was around average temperature (a relief after our record warm October) and below average for snowfall for most of Utah. Alta-Guard UDOT station is where I like to compare years as it is unbiased data that dates back 70 years. It received 46″ of snow this month — well below the average of 70″. If you consider “winter months” to be November thru April, we have now had 9 consecutive below average winter snowfall months in LCC. Since the start of the 2011-2012 season, we have had just 2 out of 25 months with above average snowfall (December 2012 and February 2014) and each of those was just barely above average. To say “we are due” is a massive understatement…
Most other locations in the Wasatch seem to be in that general range between 50-75% of normal snowfall for the month. Southern Utah did well, with more areas than not down south exceeding normal snowfall values for the month.
Here is a look at westwide snowpack numbers:
You can see that areas immediately to our west and south are doing well. The Wasatch is between 66-75% of median. Almost all areas to our north are also having slow starts to the season. It’s a very different look from last year’s pattern, but the result for us so far has been similar.
Snowbird so far:
We are at 68% of the median and trailing last year which ended November right at normal values.
Overall, it’s been a slow start to winter. As we’ve mentioned before, we’ve actually been in an active pattern for the past 4.5 weeks, but luck wasn’t always on our side as storms split and took much of their moisture south of us. We are in a bit of a lull right now, but hopefully the tempo picks up as we head toward Christmas holidays.