Revving the Engines

Monday, November 14, 2016 at 7:27 am


Three more days of warm weather before our first cold storm in many weeks pushes through the area.  Snow likely down to valley floors with decent accumulations possible in the mountains.  Additional storms possible through the end of the month.


This Fall will certainly go down as the most remarkably warm one I’ve experienced during my time in Utah.  After a couple early season snowfalls, we’ve gone through an astoundingly dry and warm spell.  If you’re a mountain biker, trails that are normally not ridable after mid-October have been good to go until now.  If you want to get on those high mountain trails, just to say you’ve ridden them in mid-November, you’ve got two (maybe three) days to do so before winter sets in for good.  In a similar vein, SLC airport has yet to record a freezing temperature. It looks like they will break their record of latest freeze date.

The storm we’ve been tracking for some time now is still looking good.  It will track through the area late Wednesday into Thursday.  In general, the trend yesterday was toward a stronger storm and more snowfall.  Two days ago, things were looking bleak as the models had a bit of a lapse and depicted almost no snowfall.  We saw the NAEFS range of outcomes showing anywhere from 0-20″ of snow.  The same graph today continues to show a large spread of anywhere from 5 to 40 inches of snowfall for the Upper Cottonwoods:


The mean on this graph is up to about 18″.  It is worth noting that the European and Canadian models both do NOT show nearly as much precipitation as the GFS.  Also, this is from the 00z run last night.  Today’s 06z came down to earth quite a bit.  Here’s a look at forecasted snowfall:


You can clearly see the areas most favored.  Cottonwoods and central Wasatch most likely to get higher snowfall totals.  There is still a lot of uncertainty with this storm, but all things considered, right now I’d say 6-12″ is likely for the high elevations of the Wasatch. We could see more, especially southeast of the GSL if lake effect kicks in.  However, this is always a wildcard.  Due to the uncertainty, I will keep forecasts conservative for now.  Mountain valleys like Park City should see a few inches.  Wasatch Front valleys could even get some snow accumulation (especially southeast of the lake).

Colder temperatures will be the other story.  700mb temps will drop down to their lowest values yet this year.  That means that temps will be below freezing above 8,000 feet around the clock for at least a couple days after the storm.  All resorts with snowmaking ability should be able to fire the guns.  Hopefully, we can get a run or two open for next weekend….?

Long range:

Very different solutions offered in the long range.  If you’re a GFS watcher, you may be excited by the prospects the operational run has been feeding us over the last couple days.  The most recent run (06z) shows no less that 5 individual storms moving through the area between now and the end of November.  After this week’s storm, it has another for Tuesday of next week, then a third for about Thanksgiving Day.  The Euro, however, has been equally consistent showing a much more splitty pattern in which these systems split off the California coast long before reaching us.  As exciting as the GFS looks, my tendency right now is to put more faith in the Euro. All models, however, generally would keep a cool pattern through the long range.  At this time, it appears that conditions could continue to get more favorable for storms toward the end of the month.  GFS ensembles showing unusual consistency depicting a trough over the entire West on November 30:


For now, being cautiously optimistic is my recommendation.  Whatever happens, this is certainly a far better pattern than the one we’ve been in.  Potentially, if ingredients come together just right, it could mean that we erase our early season snowfall deficit rather quickly.


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