High pressure will keep our weather quiet with rapidly warming mountain temps over the next couple days. Active weather returns for this weekend as a strong and moist trough drops into the region. Significant mountain snowfall is a possibility.
A lot to talk about today, so let’s dive right in…
Yesterday was just as I was hoping. An amazing, bluebird sleeper powder day. LCC had a foot of fresh blower pow on top of the foot of fresh snow that fell Sunday morning. Soft as ya like! One of the best mornings of skiing I’ve had in a long time. High pressure is now in control and temperatures are warming fast in the upper levels. I doubt we’ll be able to maintain our snow quality this week.
Good news, however…. Our break is short-lived and active weather returns for this weekend. I’ve been talking about this end of January storm cycle for a long time as models grabbed hold of it 10+ days ago and haven’t let go. I was confident enough to write about it quite some time back due to the consistency models were showing and sure enough, it’s happening. Score one for long range model performance!
Right now it looks like a very moist front is going to slowly sag south during the day Friday. Snow could begin in the Wasatch as early as Friday afternoon. Models have this front very slowly continuing to sag south during the day Saturday, all the while bringing copious moisture to the region. The GFS has been stalling the front bit more over Northern Utah than the Euro, leading to higher totals. Snow will likely continue through Saturday and possibly straight into Sunday. The Euro keeps moisture around with occasional snow into early next week. The GFS on the other hand, has a strong second wave pushing directly into Utah late Sunday into Monday. Because of this, the GFS generates significantly more precipitation total than the Euro.
The Euro’s solution would bring an inch or more of liquid to virtually all Utah mountains with 2-3″ for favored areas. That would equate to 1-2 feet of snow with more possible in places through early next week. Not too bad. I’m not allowed to post Euro images due to their privacy restrictions, but I’ll post the Canadian GEM instead, which has somewhat similar outputs:
The Euro is similar, but is decidedly more generous to central and southern Utah than the GEM. (For what it’s worth, I rarely post the Canadian GEM model because I think it is a worthless pile of garbage, but sometimes it can be useful in deciding differences between GFS and Euro).
In contrast, the GFS is very robust due to a slower front migration south, then a strong secondary wave of energy early next week. This is what the GFS puts out:
Widespread 2-3″ of liquid with 5 inches or more in the Cottonwoods. Impressive. However, the GFS has been overly bullish quite frequently this year and this solution doesn’t quite make as much sense to me as the Euro.
The NAEFS ensembles, which include the GFS members, are shown in graphical form here:
This goes through Monday, so it doesn’t cover the full 10-day run, but you can see that most ensembles show two separate spikes in precip with each wave. Overall, the mean keeps rising. I think this is overdone personally, I’d expect between 2-3″ for the upper Cottonwoods during this time period — more in line with the Euro.
Even if we end up with the more conservative Euro, that would still mean a good dose of snow. Snow levels will start out around 6,000 feet on Friday, but should gradually drop down to valley floors through the weekend. That means that in the mountains, the denser snow will be on bottom, which is always good. Anything we get from Sunday onward should be blower snow as cold air moves in. We’ll keep a close eye on this storm through the rest of the week.
Just in case you were wondering, here is what the state of Utah snowpack looks like as of this morning:
Most areas are above the median. The exception is the Northern Wasatch which is just below the median, however, they are doing significantly better than last year. Speaking of last year, this last storm finally put Snowbird’s snotel site above last year:
This year (blue line) was able to pass both last year (green line) and the median (purple line) with Sunday’s storm. That puts this snotel at 103% of the median. Looking at this graph is just a reminder of how awful last year truly was after January 1. We are supposed to keep climbing until late April, instead, we basically just flatlined. Luckily, this year we are going to continue that upward climb. I feel like I’ve already skied a season’s worth of powder. Yesterday was my 23rd powder day (>6″ fresh snow) of the season! As you can see, there will be plenty more opportunities for powder. Statistically, we are less than 42% of the way done with our seasonal snowfall.
Thanks for reading!