Weak Storm Tomorrow + Snowpack Update

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 6:35 am

Summary:

A weak and splitting system will bring light snow showers to the region late tonight into Thursday along with reinforcing cold temps.  A break this weekend before a VERY cold system drops into the area for the start of next week, bringing more snow.

Details:

Snow showers will develop tonight in the Wasatch range of northern Utah as a weak system passes through the region.  This system has cold air, but is splitting a bit and lacking severely in moisture.  Therefore, we’ll likely only see off and on snow showers lasting through tomorrow.  Accumulations should be on the light side.  I’m still thinking 1-4″ with perhaps up to 6″ in a few select, favored areas.  The 06z NAM seems to support this notion, showing about 4″ for the Upper Cottonwoods:

weather.utah.edu

weather.utah.edu

Overall, nothing to write home about, but could definitely soften up turns tomorrow. And provide some additional untouched goodness for the resorts that will be opening on Friday.

We see a break Friday thru Sunday, which will allow resorts to do a lot of safety work to get more terrain open.  Temperatures will warm back up to average or above for the weekend.

Next week, however, the bottom falls out as a VERY cold trough enters the region.  This will be the coldest system of the year so far.  Snow should develop Sunday night into Monday as a cold front passes through.  Snow showers could linger into Tuesday and Wednesday as follow-up waves are possible.  This is not a huge system, but with cold air, lingering showers, and the possibility of some help from lake effect, we could get some half way decent totals.   Right now, my conservative guess is that it currently looks to be a 6-12″ type of system.  We’re still 5+ days out, so that can change so stay tuned.

Long range:

In general, it seems like a colder, more active pattern will continue.  Models have been showing a chance for another system sometime around December 10.  We’ll continue to watch that.

Snowpack:

Two weeks ago we had virtually no snow and many of us were starting to panic.  Luckily, this time of year it’s really easy to turn things around quickly with a good storm cycle.  That is exactly what we’ve done.  Here is a look at the statewide snowpack numbers:

1130_utah_snowpack

Some formatting issues, but those areas that didn’t get colored should be the lower numbers of that range (144%, 143%, and 137%) — so image those areas to be dark blue.  That means that most of the Wasatch and southern and eastern Utah are now near or above normal snowpack.  The exceptions are the regions that we’re not favored by this last storm — the far northern Wasatch and the Uintas, which still have some catching up to do.  Because it’s still very early season, these numbers are particularly volatile, but it does illustrate how well we are doing now compared to just two weeks ago.

Taking a look at this graphically for one popular Snotel site, Snowbird, we see the rapid catch up to our median snowpack:

NRCS

NRCS

After flatlining October and the first few weeks of November, we’ve had a sharp spike up to ‘normal’.  Given the current forecasts, I don’t think we’ll be giving up too much ground in the next two weeks.  More than likely we’ll be entering the holiday season above normal if current forecast projections hold.

So if you were nervous earlier this month that we wouldn’t have anything to ski or ride, you can let it out.  Things are looking much better now!

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WSF

 





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