Split Flow Blues

Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 9:45 am


A chance for a couple lingering snow showers today (Saturday), but otherwise we are generally entering a drying, warming trend as high pressure takes control.  Over the next 10 days or so, it looks like systems will try to push into the west coast but most will fall victim to splitting.  Therefore, the systems that do reach Utah will likely be weak.


Our past week was always destined to be one in which we tried to feast off of scraps of stronger storms that brought significant snow to areas to our south.  (Arizona Snowbowl outside of Flagstaff got 58″ of snow this week.)  All things considered, I’d say we did pretty well.  Many resorts in the Wasatch saw 10-18″ over the past 72 hours.  Yesterday, I skied AltaBird and had some incredible turns in the area between the two resorts (Westward Ho and Keyhole).  Maybe not quite the over-the-head blower we had last month, but still faceshots on every turn.

Yesterday, the light snow that was consistently falling in LCC had some of the best snowflakes I’ve seen in a long time.  It was about 20 degree F and no wind to speak of.  Perfect conditions for stellar dendrites to form.  I had a great time just looking at the snowflakes that were landing on my jacket and gloves as I rode the lifts.  Hopefully if you were up there, you took notice of some of the truly beautiful snowflakes that were falling.

Unfortunately, now we are really entering a period of dry weather.  Ridging overhead with troughing to our west in the eastern Pacific.  This trough is going to eject several waves over the next 10 days into the west coast.  Each one looks like it will weaken and/or split as it pushes east and encounters high pressure without a strong jet to carry it.  For the most part, we should only see occasional clouds from these systems.

Later this week, on Thursday, a system is progged by models to push inland that just may hold together well enough to bring the region precipitation.  The GFS’s solution would bring us somewhat respectable snowfall.  However, the Euro (and GEM) shows this system weakening and only bringing us a chance for very light snowfall.  At this point my money would be on the Euro…. We’ll see…

Long range:

The Pacific is absolutely jacked right now, in large part thanks to El Nino.  Our problem is that Utah can go either way and right now the setup is not one in which we are favored to get heavy precipitation.  There are indications, however, that this trough will very slowly push east and closer to the western U.S. over the next couple weeks.  The CFS, ECMWF weeklies, and even the long range of the operational GFS all show the pattern getting more active for the second half of January.  At this point, I’m taking it all with a grain of salt.  El Nino patterns tend to be very stubborn, which is why some areas that are favored can get such incredible rainfall totals, and other areas can be so dry.  I think this is going to be a slow transition that will require patience.  Luckily, we have a healthy snowpack that will keep skiing good while this transition takes place.


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11 thoughts on “Split Flow Blues

    1. Wasatch Snow Forecast

      The last two days were already better for me than all of January 2015, and I still think we’ll get some action in here before the month is over, after all, we still have 22 days left of the month 😉

      1. Chad Niel

        Haha this is too true, and we already seeming to be getting a lot more of the 50/50 balls than we did last year. I’m just salty cause I couldn’t get out of work yesterday 😉 Thanks for keeping our spirits high!

  1. Jiří Kadlec

    you mentioned about a warming trend for the next week. But it looks like it should stay below freezing most of the time. Or is it going to be an extreme warming like last January and February that melted all snow on south facing aspects?

  2. Jim

    Hopefully it’s just the models going through a transition because neither the gfs nor euro 12z operational runs look good. Yesterday’s cpc precip prob. forecast seems incredulous given recent model runs.

  3. Chad Niel

    Not sure wth is going on with reporting, there was more than one inch on the slopes at snowbird today.

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