New Year, New Pattern

Saturday, January 2, 2016 at 8:03 am


The New Year will start out with mostly clear conditions this morning with increasing clouds this afternoon.  It may be breezy at times today on the ridges.  A new pattern will develop for the upcoming week that will favor California and the desert southwest.  Some moisture will likely make its way north for occasional snow, but accumulations do not looks significant for Northern Utah mountains.


Another cold morning across the state.  Yesterday (Friday) we saw some of the coldest morning lows in quite awhile.  Winds also picked up yesterday in the mountains with a rare easterly wind.  UAC is reporting some windloading avalanche danger in some atypical areas so be careful in the backcountry.

We should remain dry through at least Monday morning.  Then a pattern shift is going to take place that will feature high pressure bubbling up to our north and being undercut by a strong Sub-tropical jet stream.  This is fairly typical of an El Nino year.  Storms are generally going to push in the from the west before dropping subtly down the California coast and pushing inland through the desert southwest.  When you look at GEFS forecast heights for Monday, you can see three distinct systems lining up.  I added some crudely drawn arrows to show their generally direction:


Definitely good news for Southern California and Arizona.  As for us, it will be interesting to see how much moisture makes it up to the Wasatch.  Southern Utah mountains could do well this week, but Northern Utah is much more difficult to call.  Obviously, this isn’t a typical pattern for heavy snowfall, so I’d expect that amounts should remain on the light side.  Since these storm systems are well to our south and will be “throwing” moisture north into our area, it also is very difficult to time individual waves.

Again, only expecting light accumulations at times next week for Northern Utah mountains.  Southern Utah certainly has a better shot at more significant snowfall.   Here is the QPF for the next 7 days:


As you can see, it’s California and Arizona that are the big winners in this pattern.

Long range:

Models right now are split on the time frame after next week (after Jan 9).  In general, the Euro seems to favor drying and ridging heading toward mid-month.  The latest trends in the GFS have been to take a brief break, before the storm track pushes back in, this time farther north.  If you follow the GFS, you’ve probably seen this in the last couple runs.  At this point, I would strongly advise against getting your hopes up, at least until we get closer and/or the Euro jumps on board.


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  • Alex Curtis

    It sounds like last year when we had an awesome December then nothing… Just keeping my expectations low at this point…

    • Considering we could be impacted from 4 storms in the next 10 days, I would hardly call this “nothing”. We are just not the favored areas, at least for now. Hopefully that will change with time.

      • Jim

        Not to mention the GFS continues to show some very interesting potential snowfall amounts next 16 days, unlike last year. Is the euro at least partially on board with this? I don’t have access to euro models.

        • In the sense that it shows systems thru the 10-day run, yes, the Euro is on board. However, it is generally weaker. You’re certainly right about those GFS runs. They sure do look delicious.

          • Jim

            And they’ve been getting better each run.

          • Steve Noufer

            Noticed that. Need Euro on board.

    • Ran

      You’re right, time to hang up the skis/boards… It sucks out there right now

  • Db

    Sounds like we’ll head to Mt Lemmon in Tucson for some powder next week!!

  • Um…. La Nina’s can follow El Nino winters but that is certainly far from guaranteed. Whistler does do well in La Ninas, but I wouldn’t bank on it.