The Trifecta

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 6:29 am

Summary:

Snow returns to the mountains of Utah on Thursday as a splitting system pushes through the region.  Modest accumulations are likely.  Another similar system moves through for Saturday.  Then, perhaps a stronger storm to begin next week.  Several chances for powder over the coming week.

Details:

Yesterday’s forecast was titled “Weak, Weak, Strong,”  and that still seems to be the case as three independent systems line up to affect the region over the next 7 days.

The first in this series is currently hammering Washington and BC with very heavy rain and snow.  This system will weaken and split as it drops south and east down the west coast.  That will mean it will favor areas to our south, such as Arizona.  Southern Utah mountains can expect snow to develop late tonight with 6-12″ above 8,000 feet.  For northern Utah,  I think generally 3-6″ is most likely for our mountains, although regions favored by SW flow (Brighton, Sundance, Deer Valley) could do a bit better.  My confidence is low with this storm.

Friday should have some moderately deep powder in the morning, but will be a break in the action as the next system moves in for late Friday night into Saturday.  This system again is sliding south of the region and will favor those areas farther south.  Another 3-6″ for northern mountains with 5-10″ for the southern Utah mountains from this storm.  Saturday should be good storm day skiing for many locations.

Sunday is another break in the action before the third storm arrives Sunday night into Monday.  This storm has been looking significantly stronger than the first two.  However, this system could also slide a bit south and take some of its best moisture with it.  Looking at the NAEFS plumes, like we did yesterday, you can see the first two storms are on the weaker side, then the third is much stronger:

If you’re looking for more continuous deep powder, then perhaps heading west is your best option.  Tahoe, for once, looks like they won’t struggle with snow levels for most of these upcoming storms.  Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Summit has some mighty fine accumulations on the way…

Univ of Utah

Perhaps not a bad time to make a pilgrimage west, but my experience has taught me that when you bet against Utah, you often get burned.

Long Range:

At this point, all signs continue to indicate that we ridge up by January 25th and see dry conditions carry us through the end of the month and perhaps beyond.

WSF





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  • Tim

    So I know long-term weather forecasting is challenging to say the least…but if you were to peer into your crystal ball do you see the ridge breaking by first weekend of Feb…even if you don’t see it just lie to me and say you do….thanks so much and keep up the great work

    • Bradley Heller

      Austin- the buoy is uncannily flawless with its forecasts every-damn-time! It is pronosticating accumulations of 31-32 inches at Powder Mountain for February 11th. It also says February 12th will be clear and sunny- best bring your sunscreen!

    • All signs point to it breaking down immediately

      • Worker Drone

        Is there any chance UT resorts get snow between Jan 25-31? I know that is when the ridge sets in, but it sure would be nice to even get 4-6 inches or something light.

        • There’s always a chance, beginning of that range is still a week away which is definitely outside the range of high confidence.

          • Worker Drone

            I will cling to any chance I can. We are coming out there to ski from the 27 to 31st. Granted, the conditions should still be good regardless, but some fresh powder would be nice. Thanks for the quick reply.

      • Kevin

        Are models pointing to the ridge breaking or holding strong going into the first week of Feb?

        • Right now, seems to be holding strong through the first few days of February. But this is really pushing the range of what we can predict. So nothing this far out is anywhere close to set in stone.

  • Austin Baird

    What are your thoughts on this “Utah Buoy” pretender? It seems to be mostly hype and hashtags and sponsored Facebook posts to sell t-shirts – and backing down from overblown promises (like an epic storm from the 25th to the end of the month) after you post well-sourced predictions.

    • Hey, if an octopus can predict sports…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Octopus

      • But seriously… There’s not much science to back up the buoy. It gives itself two days on either side of it’s forecast to be “correct”. So that means that any snow that falls in a 5-day window will make the forecast correct. Last year that meant 83% accurate. If you randomly choose 30 days in a season and give yourself two additional days on each side, I bet you’ll get similar results because the Wasatch sees frequent snowfall all winter.

        For experimentation purposes, I did just that before the start of the season. So far, by buoy standards, I’m at 100%! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67cff012c39f01e0d56c1af872056a5ac4f4d1ce094086d539c4bb093dded593.png

    • The buoy is fun and unique and it can’t hurt. I just wouldn’t plan a vacation around it.

    • Altabird

      Buoy pretender/ self-described bar room meteorologist here. For the record, I haven’t sold a thing or made any money off of the buoy. Also haven’t backed down from my 25th to the end of the month and now into Feb 2nd report. What’s wrong with having some fun with skiing and powder anyway?? Thanks for all your work Evan, I love reading your stuff for the inside 2-3 day details.

  • Austin Baird

    Also. I’m trying to plan my epic pow trip for 2019. I want to come out on February 12-18. Will those be good dates? I’m trying to decide between Snowbird and Powder Mountain. Which specific lifts and aspects will have the best powder?

  • Luke

    Totally stoked for my trip, jan 23-26. Hopeful to snowboard in some awesome powder for the first time in 3 trips to Utah.

  • Steve Noufer

    Any thoughts on which areas will do best in Monday/Tuesday storm?

    • Initially, SW flow areas, then the flow will turn NW and those areas should pile up later on. Equal Opportunity Storm, but I’d probably guess NW flow areas will do better.